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Beth Moore: “We Have to Distinguish Between Pro-Christianity and Actual Christ-likeness”

Beth Moore: “We Have to Distinguish Between Pro-Christianity and Actual Christ-likeness”

When Beth Moore stepped into ministry over 30 years ago, she had no clue where she’d end up.

“I didn’t have some big plan,” Moore said. “I just knew God was calling me to take one step of obedience, and that’s all I’ve been doing ever since.”

Over the last several decades, Moore has followed that step of obedience to speak at countless conferences, minister to millions, speak with faith leaders around the world and author dozens of books, including her latest memoir, All My Knotted Up Life.

Moore sat down with RELEVANT to discuss her life — professionally and spiritually — as well as share an encouraging message to the next generation of believers.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For so many young believers, particularly women, you’re someone people look up to as an example. Do you feel that weight? 

It’s so kind of you to say that, but you know, nothing feels heroic. And you don’t see it when you look in the mirror. You don’t see it. I ran into someone at the airport… I don’t think I’ve told this in one of the interviews, so I’ll share it with you. I ran into someone in her late 30s or early 40s who had not been a fan. Not at all. And then she said, “Beth, I watched the scathing, and then I started doing some research on my own.” Long story short, she said God called her to get a theological degree, so she was in seminary at the time, and she said, “I just want to tell you that I was wrong about you.” I don’t know what she meant by that, but then she looked at me and said, “We have all watched you, and Beth, you landed…”

I almost can’t tell you this without wanting to cry. She said, “Beth, you landed on your feet.” I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days, because I looked at her… I’m sure I looked confused because I thought, “I did?” Because what I feel like is most of my bones are broken from the top of my head to all those bones that we have in our feet. I feel battered and bruised, but I thought maybe… Maybe I did.

Maybe that was the best part of writing the memoir: working to see that Satan meant to absolutely destroy me and some of my fellow mothers and sisters meant to as well. And Satan will also want to destroy you, Amy, and your colleagues who love Jesus and all of those who serve him. There will be times when you’ll think they did. They got away with it. They got their hit. But maybe you’ll realize looking back over it: Good heavens, maybe even with all these broken bones… I did land on my feet. And if so, it was the hand of God that caught me. Absolutely.

It seems like you’ve got a lot of determination and grit. Is that something you’ve always had, or has it built up over the years?

It has definitely built up over the years. When you pursue a walk with Jesus — because my walk has certainly been wobbly and I certainly know what it is to fall in the ditch and have to get back up and trip and fall and have God pick me back up again and set me on my feet again and brush off all the dust and all the dirt and all the mess from all the things. But there’s also that growing of endurance. And it is grown in. And it is very often deliberate. It is us choosing to say, “No, Jesus is worth this. He is worthy of this.”

I’ll tell you this: My belief system wouldn’t have been worth it. I would say, if someone will listen to me and understand what I’m saying and not what I’m not saying, Christianity as a way of thinking and a worldview would not have been worth it. The people that I serve, I’m not sure at the end of the day, when it was said and done, would have necessarily been worth it. But Jesus is worth it. He is worth it. So every time, of course, serving others is as well.

I’m just saying there are times when nothing else is enough. You’re only in it because you love Jesus and He loves you, and the calling on your life is just He grabs and holds tight. But I do want to say that I have always been strong-willed.

I’m sure somebody’s seeing this and going, “Yeah, this is why we call you a Jezebel.” Just call me what you want. Listen, at this point, I’ve been called everything. Somebody said not too long ago that I’m teaching “my Jezebel ways” to other young women. Call it what you want to. But I’m going to tell you that Paul talks in 2 Timothy chapter 3 about weak-willed women. And one of the things I’ve said… I’ve got two granddaughters, and my daughters and I have talked on multiple occasions: This is no age to raise up weak-willed women. There’s nothing more wonderful than a strong-willed woman who is strong-willed about the will of God in her life. That kind of strong will is essential in this culture.

You better believe it and know what it is. Ephesians says, “And know what the will of the Lord is.” So seek it. Seek it. And then when you know it and when He’s leading you on it, hold on for dear life and persevere. Don’t quit because you made a mistake. I’m certain I’ve had as many failures as I’ve had successes, whatever any of that means. So you just listen: You just keep doing the thing until we see His face.

What encouragement would you like to give the next generation of believers?

I want them to be able to distinguish between what Christianity can look like on people — because all of us will let them down, — and who Christ is. I just want to say over and over again: Get to know Christ. You better know the Gospel. You better know Jesus.

We have to be able to distinguish, especially in this culture, especially in American Christianity, between what looks to be pro-Christian and what is actually Christlike. We don’t ever use un-Christlike means to get pro-Christian results. That has to be distinguished.

One of the things I would say to the next generation, and this is controversial because there are so many people that I love who would very much disagree with me: I think we have got to disentangle ourselves from political parties. I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote. I’m a big believer in voting. I’m saying that when we get all tangled up and make deals with and conflate the things of faith with politicians and politics, we have now mixed that which is of the Spirit with that which is of the world.

I’m thinking in terms of Galatians 3:3, where Paul says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” In other words, because I want to live a life in a faithful God, I want to live a life that is through the Holy Spirit, I’m not going to use fleshly means to get Holy Spirit results. It’s not going to work. So I just would say: Be true to Jesus and don’t listen. Nothing is happening beyond His command and beyond His eye.

So when you look around your churches or your events, whatever it may be, and you see so many fewer people and you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, this can’t be good. Christianity is dying.” I’m telling you, because Christ was raised from the dead, Christianity cannot die. It cannot. He came back from the dead. Christianity is going to endure to the end of this world, to the end of this age, to the recreation of a new heavens and a new earth. It’s going to endure.

But what we must trust Him to do is that very often growing looks like shrinking and very often He’s pruning back branches so that they will grow. And we have been trained to think that numbers and success and winning are signs that God is pleased and we have lost touch with what Christlikeness looks like in the gospel.

But that’s what I would want to say: You’ve got to be able to distinguish between those two things. And once you can, once you get to where you can distinguish between what is Christlike and then what is just in our culture pro-Christian, then you’re going to find that there are a whole lot of people who are pursuing Jesus. A whole lot more people than you might have thought. You sort of get that back because you quit associating it with the world and you start looking at the margins.

Do you know how many people are out there today who you will never see on a screen who are just serving the poor, who are just helping a woman find a safe place for her and her child, who are helping somebody out who is just not going to make it through their sickness? And so much of Jesus’ work is happening, but we associate it with what we see on a platform and hear with the loud volume. And it’s just two completely different things.

Read more of our interview with Moore here

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