What does it really mean to be a Christian? Is here more to it than simply testifying to your faith? What does it mean to claim "Jesus is Lord"?
Few, said Jesus Christ, would embark on the kind of life he came to reveal. A look at the total change that the Christian walk demands helps you see why!
We are not, of course, "saved by works". Only the suffering and death of Jesus Christ can forge a relationship with God that will last for eternity. But how we live is the visible expression of the life of faith. As wrote James in his letter to Christians, without "works" faith is dead. Yet millions persuade themselves that they are Christians all the while ignoring the way God reveals.
The involved Christian joyfully accepts what God reveals, knowing all His ways benefit us. They reflect the "Maker's instruction" for His creation! And in carrying out His will in our daily life, we indeed "lay up treasure in heaven".
So, let's lift the lid on the daily life of a Bible Christian.
A Transformed Life
The Christian way transforms our attitudes - on how we work, what we work at, and even our attitude to the taxman. It affects our friendships, our choice of partner and our sexual relationships. It changes what we eat, what holidays we have, what day off we take weekly. It transforms most aspects of family life.
How we live as Christians ought to be the Word of God in action. Perhaps most who dub themselves Christian effect no change of lifestyle. They are just like the society in which they live. Others, for example those with a "born again" experience, may positively alter their behavior. They no longer steal, or lie, or do violence, or lust after their neighbor or their neighbor's goods. They will begin to attend church and even give to the church. No small changes, indeed.
However, the call to follow Christ demands even more radical change. Our lifestyle must be altered root and branch.
Imagine you are part of a traditional family with a couple of children. The husband, say, is a man who wants to follow the Scriptures while the wife is a "traditional" Christian - a Baptist, say, or a Methodist or Roman Catholic. What differences will there be?
Take first your church life. Just like Jesus and the apostle Paul you will be regularly taking part in worship. It won't, however, be on Sunday - but on Saturday. For the true Christian Sabbath - appointed at creation for all time - is the seventh day of the week. You won't use God's weekly holy day for shopping or for business or for pleasure activities. What will the family say to that?
And come Christmas you, the husband, won't want the decorated tree. Nor will you wish to take part in the typical excess of Xmas merriment. What will the wife and kids think? And the friends and relations?
On the other hand, come the autumn you will follow the Scriptural injunction to attend one of God's annual "festivals of joy" - the Festival of Tabernacles, an eight-day "seminar" possibly in an out-of-the-way resort. What will that do to the family who are steeped in the traditional Christian festival calendar? Will they want to trail along and join in? Or be happy to stay home, alone? (Though they would be heartily welcome to join in!)
And it doesn't end there! For perhaps while the tradition-bound Christian is observing pre-Christian religious seasons such as Lent and Easter you will be observing God's annual Memorial of the suffering and agonizing death of Jesus, and the Days of Unleavened Bread - seven days during which you put out all yeasted products from your home - biscuits, cakes, self-raising flour etc. You eat no yeasted products during these seven days, at home or anywhere. Quite a disruption to normal kitchen practice. Yet for the Bible Christian it's a time of spiritual joy - and happy feasting. And a season of great spiritual significance which highlights a vital aspect of God's plan for us.
Then there's Pentecost, also a rest day. The traditional Christian will recognize this (perhaps as Whitsunday) - though it may not be on the same date. Or Trumpets, two weeks before Tabernacles. An annual Sabbath - which means you don't work on it. Followed ten days later by the strange-sounding Day of Atonement. That's a whole day and night of fasting, and also a Sabbath when you do not pursue your business interests.
All these annual Sabbaths express some aspect of the work of Christ and of God's master plan for humanity.
God's way is different!
Home Sweet Home
Daily life, too, is different. For the Bible-following Christian husband won't sit down to a breakfast of grilled bacon. Nor will he join with you in a meal of scampi or oysters or other shellfish. Nor will the weekend joint, for him, be a pork roast. Yes - God even, for excellent reasons, prescribes what the Christian should eat! [See God's Diet Plan for Healthful Living]
Real Christianity also impacts your family finances. Many Christians, of course, will "tithe" (i.e., give a tenth) of their income to the church or to charity - though often under duress. The Bible Christian will joyfully and thankfully apportion some of his income for advancing Christ's good news and the work of the church. This is part of God's revealed way of life, though not an enthralling prospect for the unconverted! But a practice that teaches faith and reliance on the Creator God who provides for our needs.
Besides these, you may - depending on the church affiliation - find other clashes with traditional belief. No Mass, for example. Nor religious icons or crosses or crucifixes or candles. Nor weekly or monthly Communion.
Yet in all of this there is joy. The life-style to which we are called as followers of Jesus Christ is different - but joyously so. For you know you are in obedience to the will of God and are following the only form of religious experience He has ever specified. You have fellowship with thousands of like-minded brethren, and - remotely - with Jesus and the apostles and the first Christians. For all of them observed these same practices in their day.
To truly follow Jesus Christ is a serious business! But it is what God expects of you if you are to truly express "Jesus is Lord" in your daily walk.
Jesus had some hard words for his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day: 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name.' And then I will declare to them 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness"' (Matthew 7:21-23).
True Christianity is not for the faint-hearted. As Jesus pointed out: "... narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life [i.e., eternal life], and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). He later warned that many false teachers would come along distorting his words and preaching a substitute Gospel.
It's vital that you prove from God's Word what is the true faith. Check all you read and hear with your own Bible - don't simply "accept the word of the preacher"!
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 4 Issue 2, November/December 1999. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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