True Christianity: Consistency Through Life Seasons
Recently I’ve been reading a christian classic called True Christianity by Johann Arndt. Arndt lived in 17th century Germany and wrote to the Lutheran church, calling people out of a dead orthodoxy into a vibrant and living faith. He observed the hypocrisy of his day and surfaced as a prophetic voice in the midst of this cultural milieu.
Incredibly, though Arndt wrote this book some 400 years ago, his call for repentance and a return to authentic New Testament faith has never been more relevant than now. It’s no secret that the American church is in trouble. The lack of a living, vibrant expression of the christian faith surrounds us daily. And yet, the Lord in His faithfulness always seems to raise up prophetic voices in every generation calling the Church to be the Church. Arndt was one of those voices.
One particular passage from Arndt best summarizes the spiritual condition of his time. Here he contrasts the marks of a hypocritical christian with the marks of a true and genuine follower of Christ, revealing the glaring contradictions. Arndt writes with a verbosity and depth of language that may seem foreign to us, but his message rings clear nonetheless. He says,
There are in the world a sort of men not unlike to trees who ever change with the times. For as these easily lose their leaves as the winter draws near, but as easily recover them again when the season changes and becomes more favorable. Even so many persons in the winter of adversity may keep in and hide their lusts and repress the emotions and pleasures of their corrupt nature, who yet immediately, upon a prosperous turn of their affairs or a more favorable season, break out again as at the first and as having recruited themselves with fresh strength. This is the true and genuine mark of all hypocrites, than which nothing can be more abhorred by the true christian who is in all seasons and under all revolutions, be they public or private, unalterably fixed in God; who both in prosperity and adversity maintains still a uniform piety and is equally just and faithful to all his engagements and steadily adheres to His Savior, taking all things indifferently that his lot has cast upon him.
Basically, Arndt is saying that the fluctuation from times of abundance to times of adversity has a way of revealing what’s really in our hearts. This dropping and recovering of leaves with the ebb and flow of life seasons reveals a heart that is not satisfied in Christ alone.
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” So, I must ask myself, and you must ask yourself, Is my heart completely His? When times of difficulty surface, am I the same person I was during the times of abundance and fruitfulness? What does the consistent pattern of my life say about who I really am?