Earlier this summer I was in a mall in Worcester, Massachusetts when I saw a shocking advertisement from a health care facility. It said “Pride kills thousands of men each year.”
I can attest to that statement. At my dad’s funeral, someone came up to me and told me that my dad might have been suffering from a risky medical condition but that he did not want to get treated or tell anyone of the situation. It was due to pride. He ended up dying alone, separated from his family and any friends he might have still had.
Those stories told simply to say that we need to humble ourselves and seek truth and help.
“Am I Really a Christian” by Mike McKinley is a book that encourages Christians and those that want to be Christians to humbly “go to the doctor’s appointment,” and take any measures necessary for spiritual heath.
Author Mike McKinley does a great job of examining scripture to look for solid truths on what it means to be a Christian and then teaching us to look for evidences of God’s mighty saving work in our lives.
While some could take this book as provocative, it asks an eternally important question in a simple, gospel driven, and straight forward way. Jesus himself says there are many who will get to the end and expect to walk through the pearly gates, only to hear, “I never even knew you,” from God himself. (Matthew 25). The purpose of the book is to explore such things deeply, before it is too late.
The book is laid out in nine chapters, each addressing what it means and does not mean to be a Christian. Each chapter goes to scripture to discuss what it clearly says in regards to being born again. At the end of each chapter there is a response section in which the author thoughtfully calls us to reflect, repent, remember, and report through different questions and scripture references.
McKinley does a great job at addressing how self deceived and comically limited our own self awareness is by showing us that being a Christian doesn’t mean checking a box once, or just claiming that we are. It requires a change of heart, a change of team.
McKinley takes on popular misconceptions of what a Christian is. He goes head on against the idea that you are a Christian simply because you love Jesus. He also challenges our hearts by showing us that we are not Christians if we continually abide in sin, deliberately keep in it, and happily make it a practice. I appreciated the chapters on loving others and not loving our stuff. He again, goes to scripture to show us that being a Christian means we will have a heart that loves others, dying to ourselves, and putting our hope in Christ instead of worldly goods.
I really appreciated how it also talks about the goodness of God. God delights to save his people and he is not some swindler trying to trick us into losing the race. Graciously God has given us some guidance on who belongs to himself. “You shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20). Essentially, we need to prayerfully take heed to Jesus’ warnings and cling to his promises.
The book repeats the gospel often, and helps us to see that “human beings are not spiritually wounded, we are spiritually dead.” Many people who claim to be Christians are just working on fixing themselves up, but “self improvement is not the solution to these kinds of problems. A radical overhaul is.” Chapter two dives in to what it looks like to be born again and what it means to essentially have a total alteration of your cosmic allegiances. He tackles the question “how can you tell that you are born again,” and shows us five basic things that all Christians have. (Belief in true doctrine, hatred for sin in your life, perseverance over time, love for other people, freedom from love of the world.)
I loved that involvement in a local church is stressed as an essential help to our faith. This book explains that when we are around others, they can help us locate our blind spots. Also, being immersed in good biblical teaching can help us align our values and measurements with God’s.
Time and time again the reminder sounded that I need to place my trust in Christ for my salvation, and not in a resume of religious works.
This book is a helpful instrument for anyone. It will help you peel back your heart layers and look for the evidence that God has done a mighty saving work in our lives. Even as someone who has grown up in and around Christian culture, claiming the gospel for myself at a young age, this book presented a much needed assessment.
Check out more resources and purchase it here: Am I Really A Christian by Mike McKinley.