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 look exactly alike in the way they walk out their faith. Instead, each person’s life will look a little different according to their distinct personality, circumstances, and areas of giftedness. However, there are some characteristics that should be common to all who claim to be Christians.
The very first manifestation of a true Christ-follower should be, love.
Christians need to be people who love their fellow man. For instance, do we exercise love to the other moms in our toddler’s play group? How about our next door neighbor who can sometimes be really irritating? Or what about the needy and homeless in our community? Sometimes the hardest to love are our own family members whether they are saved or not! And yes, we sometimes have trouble loving others in our church family, who may have habits or personality quirks that get under our skin. In 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) God’s Word 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 grievousness our own sin, I believe we would be more willing to forgive others their faults and shortcomings. With all that 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 one 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 characteristic that seems to be lacking in many Christ followers 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 we take and in every beat of our heart. Many of us go through our days without even a thought to the one who knit us together in the womb. Instead, functioning on autopilot, forgetting the true purpose for which we were created. 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. It means making God the priority of our life, not money, friends, sports, work or anything else that can become an idol to us. Devotion to God should be seen in 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 a destiny in hell should make me want to share him 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, as Christians, 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 an important task that Jesus left for us to do. Not only are we to share the gospel with those in our local 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.
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 in victory and in 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)