In my previous post I wrote about the many different ideas people have about the word “Christian”. I also shared the origin of the word itself, which in the Greek means, Christ-follower. In today’s post I want to look at what the life of a Christian should look like according to God’s Word.
Now, certainly, every Christian will not express their faith in exactly the same way. Each believer’s life will look a little different according to their distinct personality, circumstances, and area of giftedness. However, there are some characteristics that should be common to all who claim to be Christians.
The most important characteristic of a true Christ-follower should be, love.
Christians need to be people who love their fellow man. For instance, exhibiting love to the other moms in our toddler’s play group. How about our next door neighbor who can sometimes be really irritating? Do we go out of our way to show love to him or her? Or what about the needy and homeless in our community? Are we loving to that population of people, or do we look down our noses at them? And how about our own family members, sometimes they are the hardest to love! How about people within our own church family who may have habits or personality quirks that get under our skin? In 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) it says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” And in John 13:34-35 it says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
This leads to another important characteristic of a Christ follower: Forgiveness.
If we, as Christians, could fully embrace what Jesus Christ has done for us by dying on the cross at Calvary, and if we had a true understanding of the gravity our of our own sin, I believe we would be more willing to forgive others faults and shortcomings. Knowing how Christ has forgiven me, how dare I hold a grudge or criticize someone else for their faults. Forgiveness should be a part of our being. Not to mention the fact that unforgiveness has the unfortunate side effect of eating us up inside as it festers and hardens the spirit. God’s Word says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Another marker of a Christian lacking in many believers today is, devotion.
By that I mean, devotion to the one who created us—the one who saved us out of darkness and into light—the one who sustains us day by day in every breath and every heartbeat. Many of us go through our days without even a thought to the one who created us. Instead, we function on autopilot, forgetting our true purpose. We were created to live a life that honors God and points others to Him while growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ. That means spending time in the Word actually getting to know Jesus. It means setting aside time in the week to worship him and thank him for all he has done for us, spending time in His Word and in prayer. It means making God our priority, not money, friends, sports, work or anything else that can so easily become an idol to us. Devotion to God is an integral part of every believer’s life. “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
And lastly, Christ followers should have a concern for the lost.
The fact that Jesus Christ has changed my eternity and saved me from an eternity in hell should make me want to share the Good News with others. Salvation is not something reserved for a select few, it is the greatest gift ever given to mankind, and if we truly love our fellow man then we must share this great life-changing gift with them. We need to share the gospel message with our neighbors, the families at our child’s school, our doctors, dentists, and hairdressers, our own relatives (which can be very difficult), anyone who will listen! After Jesus rose from the dead, as he saw his disciples for the last time here on earth, he told them, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20 This is called “The Great Commission” and it is the most important thing Jesus left for us to do. Not only are we to share the gospel with those in our circle of influence, but also around the world. Today there are many short term mission trip opportunities available in foreign countries for those who have the health and can raise the funds to go. And if God calls you to go, he will make a way. If health prevents you from physically going, you can pray for missionaries and teams that go, and you can give to the cause of missions.
I know that many of the characteristics I’ve discussed above can be difficult to walk out in real life. And I certainly do not consistently exhibit all of these qualities ( just ask my husband!), But, because something is difficult and we often fall short, doesn’t mean we should give up. And the good news is, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit within us as a power source to help us live out this Christian life with victory, purpose and joy!
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
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