True Christianity

Everyone of us has encountered “Christians” that have left a sour taste in our mouths.  From the hardline “bible thumper” to the “hypocrite” who preaches “the life” but never lives any of it.  Or the whimpy Christian who sits in the corner reading their bible, but never making a stand or declaring what is right.

We have heard many different versions of “Christianity” from the “work your way to heaven” to “God will accept everyone”.  And yet none of them truly convey the heart of God.  To be a “Christian” literally means to be “Christ-like”  and so if we are not portraying Christ then maybe we shouldn’t be called by His name.

And yet not many people can portray Christ successfully.  And that is because we are struggling to try and do it on our own.  You see we only become “true Christians” because of the working of God’s Spirit within us.   To be born again, simply means we have a natural birth, in which we are separated from God because of our sin, and a spiritial birth, born again, through God’s Spirit bringing us into relationship with Him because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross to pay our penalty for our sins.  Christianity is simply a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

So if Christianity is a relationship that is started by God, how come we are fighting to become “Christ-like” on our own?  Scripture teachs “This is God’s message to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty – you will succeed because of my Spirit”  And yet we try to fight it out ourselves.  Paul challenges his behaviour when he says “Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”

And yet we struggle on our own trying to gain the favour of God.  Trying with everything in us to gain His acceptance.  And we get very little for our efforts, and end up discouraged and disenchanted with our faith.  And yet this was never what God intended.  Scripture never teaches us to work our way to heaven.  In fact Scripture teaches the opposite.  We can never work our way to heaven, because all our goodness is like dirty oily rags compared to God.  And we get into heaven on God’s standards not our own.

So what does all this mean?  God accepts us and loves us 100% as we are.  That is why He sent Jesus to pay our debt, so we could have a relationship with Him.  Nothing can change that, and nothing can remove that.  We come to God as we are, and He accepts us as we are.  Now He loves us to much to leave us as we are, so then He begins to work in us to change us and make Christ more visible in us, as we simply trust in and yeild to Him.  But it all starts with and ends with Him.  This is what grace truly is.  God accepts us, and changes us to be like Him, and our job is to yield to and trust in Him.  And we get it all confused by trying to live up to His “expectations”. 

Many of us even feel like we have let God down and He is disappointed with us.  But this would mean we failed to live up to His expectations.  But if God knows the beginning from the end, and He does, then He already knew you wouldn’t do what He asked, and before you were even born, so how could He be disappointed?  Nothing  comes as a suprise to Him.  So we need to get over ourselves, and begin to simply trust in and yield to the One who Loves us Extravigantly, Forgives us Instantly, when we ask, and Accepts us Unconditionally.  Only then can we truly begin to live out the True Christian Life.

A need for each other

Have you ever looked at the church today and wondered why people do not seem to be living up to the standards set in the bible?

I have looked at my life and the lives of others around me and have wondered this.  And I have been confronted recently with an insight that I think we can all benefit from.  When I look at the lives of people around me I am confronted by a fierce independence that we all seem to be proud of.  Myself included.  Our society has propagated the lone ranger mentality that you ride off into the sunset  after accomplishing some impossible thing, and the whole time you are functioning mostly alone.  We don’t seem to need anyone and if we do it is seen as a weakness and not a strength.  And yet scripture is full of truth that says we need each other.  There are 36 one another’s in scripture.  Some are

Be Devoted to One Another
Accept One Another
Bear With One Another
Forgive One Another
Honor One Another
Live in Harmony with One Another
Greet One Another
Serve One Another
Submit to One Another
Stop Judging One Another
Encourage One Another
Offer Hospitality to One Another
Be Humble Towards One Another

…and most importantly… LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Our ability to live a Christian life is determined by our ability to lean on and rely on one another.  There are no lone rangers in the Christian faith.   One verse in particular commands us to seek out a local church and become a member. Hebrews 10:25, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some.

Our Christian life is all about relationship.  Our first and primary relationship is with our Saviour Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 says “The gift of God is eternal Life…”  we all know the verse, but John 17:3 says “This is eternal life..”,  the bible defines eternal life for us, “… That you may know God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.”   The word know is the same word know that Joseph did not know Mary until Jesus was born.  It entails intimacy and relationship.  The Christian faith is a love relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent, empowered by the Holy Spirit, as we cannot live this life without Him, and lived out in long-term committed relationships with other believers.  My pastor shares this truth all the time and it is one I love.  But yet we miss out on the long-term committed relationships.  We have difficulty letting go of our independence and living in relationships.  Something that leaves us very limited and unable to live the lives that God intends.   James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be cured.”  Those things in our lives that we are having difficulty overcoming can only be dealt with as we learn to lean first on Jesus, and then upon one another.  Until we discover how to I don’t think we will ever become all that we can be.