Don’t Settle for Just the Trappings of Christianity
Dec 25, 2017 2001
The trappings of Christianity can be enticing, but don’t be fooled. You can either seek the trappings or the Christ, but if you seek the trappings, you’ll never have the Christ!
The people in charge of Jesus’ crucifixions were a squad of Roman soldiers. John 19:23 suggests that the crucifixion squad consisted of four men, which makes sense. There was a centurion, and then three soldiers. This would have been enough for the three soldiers to have held down both arms and the legs of the condemned man as the nails were driven home, with the centurion to oversee.
John 19:23 tells us that the soldier’s divided Jesus’ garments into four shares. His tunic was left over,. This seems to have been the most valuable item of clothing Jesus had. Because it had no seam, the soldiers decided not to rip it up. Instead, they decided to gamble for it.
I wonder what the man thought who won it? Did he go home feeling a winner?
While the Son of God died in agony for the sins of the world, the soldiers squabbled over the trappings. That was their focus, but it shouldn’t be ours.
The trappings of Christianity can never substitute for the real thing – Jesus Christ.
By the false trappings of Christianity, I mean how it’s too easy to put a higher value on our physical, and even social, needs than on our spiritual needs. I also mean everything that is external and superficial, when compared with the reality of experiencing Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. Such an experience can only ever be grounded on a deep appreciation of what he accomplished at Calvary for the salvation of the world. The name of “Christian,” pretending to be a “good person,” and even the singing, the Bible study, the community, can never replace the real thing.
Too often, like the soldiers at the foot of the cross, we gamble for the trappings. However, the reality is that we’re just playing games with our salvation. If we but look up, we will see Jesus, crucified for us. Jesus lifted up at Calvary offers every person a far nobler and worthwhile focus of our daily struggle. Our striving shouldn’t be for the trappings but to keep our eyes firmly by faith on Jesus and who he is to us.
The soldiers who gambled for Jesus’ tunic disappeared into history. They were never heard from again. But there was one person at the Cross who sought the Christ and not the trappings. That was the young follower of Jesus called John.
John was an eye-witness there at the Cross (John 19:26–27). He saw the soldiers gamble for the trappings; in fact, he reported it (19:23–24). But John kept his eyes on the Christ, and not the trappings. That’s why, many years later, he was able to write one of the deepest truths ever written:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16).
John had found the greatest treasure that humanity could ever have. Because of it, he knew how to live, not just now, but forever. That’s a privilege that goes way beyond the mere trappings of Christianity. – Eliezer Gonzalez