From My Heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6 -NIV

What is a Christian?

We had a discussion in a small group at church a few weeks ago. I have been pondering what was said off and on ever since. The main point was – You are/are not a Christian if………………….you fill in the blank. We all fill in the blank differently. In my estimation that should not be so. I fear most people define it to suit their own desires; their comfort zone.

During the discussion I posed the question “Where did the term Christian originate?” That should give us a good clue to what it really means.
The first mention of “Christians” is in Acts chapter 11. The disciples that were visiting Antioch were called Christian because they were following Christ’s example.

During the Old Testament times God gave the Law which had to be followed precisely. There were rules about what food you could eat and how it should be prepared, what you could or could not do on the Sabbath, how strangers were to be treated, what kind of sacrifice was acceptable to take to the priest who in turn would offer it for you, how and why people were to be punished, what you needed to do to atone for your sin; the list goes on and on. How well you measured up to the Law affected your standing before God. Then God sent Jesus! Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins and because of Him there is a new covenant.

Back to what makes you a Christian. It all starts with accepting Jesus’ sacrifice. That is the Savior part. But we must remember why the early disciples were given the name Christian; they were following Christ’s teaching. That is where the Lord part comes in. We too often lump Savior & Lord together without giving it much thought. Making Him Lord is a serious commitment.

When we accept the free gift of salvation the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. He will guide us along in this new journey. It’s our job to be listening and be obedient. If we have the right attitude this should come naturally. It is different than being under the law. Our attitude should be one of a thankful loving heart. If you allow it the Holy Spirit changes you from the inside, not controlled from the outside. It means that your heart has been changed by the presence of God. You are a new creation.

Once you grasp the magnitude of what Christ has done for you how can you help but love Him? When you are in love with someone your desire is to please them. If you love Christ your desire will be to please Him. You will want to learn more about Him every day. You will follow his teachings not in order to be a Christian. You will do these things because you are a Christian. When you love Christ the things that used to be important to you will no longer seem so important. “Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 This is not a genie in the bottle scripture that guarantees you will get everything you want. I have found that as I trust God more the desires of my heart change. As I let the Holy Spirit take control my desires become more like those of Jesus. When this change takes place of course God can give us our desires; they line up directly with His.

The first step to becoming a Christian is accepting the free gift offered by God. Being a Christian does not mean that you must adhere to a strict list of must do/must not do rules in order to please God. You cannot please God on your own. You can only find your way to God through Jesus Christ.
The next step is to allow the Holy Spirit to begin a change in your heart.
Why did the residents of Antioch call the disciples Christians? Because they followed Christ! A Christian is someone who follows Christ. How do we practically do that? First we must desire to please Him. Take delight in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart, fellowship with Him, allow the Holy Spirit to take control. Then your greatest desire will be to bring glory God by following Christ’s teachings.

For a bit more insight on the folly of the “Christian Life” according to the rules of man I encourage you to watch the video “A Girl’s message to all Christians. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YXINEYdnkY&feature=share video It is very thought provoking and powerful.

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