Growing up I used to believe that I was a Christian. I would declare with my mouth that I am a Christian and there would be no hesitation within me to say that I am a Christian if someone would ask me. Complementing this I was seen as a Christian by all my peers. I was quiet and wouldn’t necessarily hang with my peers who would drink or smoke. I had a reputation of being a good kid, doing fairly well in school. I had good manners and people often said I smiled a lot. Not speaking much and just taking in what I saw others do I wasn’t aware of the Christian light that I was shining to those who knew me.
See back then I was proud of the moral standard I was adhering to. The moral Christian standard. I wasn’t known for doing worldly things and this made me more of a Christian then actually following Christ everyday. At that age I wasn’t aware of Christian doctrine and what it truly meant to be a Christian even though this was what I was unconsciously declaring by the way I live. I didn’t swear, drink or smoke and this made everyone think that I was a Christian. Even though everyone knew that I was a Christian, it wasn’t because I believed or had a relationship with Jesus, it was based solely on me living a good moral life where worldly things wasn’t very easy to see.
Forwarding about 5 to 10 years, writing this piece now I can’t help but think that the idea of what a Christian is, is so blurred and conflicted in contemporary life.
When I read the Bible I get a very clear description of what a Christian is. More so the type of person he or she should be. How their whole personality should be love-based and they should have this joy unspeakable living inside of them and should have nothing to do with sexual immorality, hate, jealousy, pride and idolatry to name a few. That said, what I also see in Scripture is that living like this is not the reason why people are called Christians. This is just the result or consequence of something that happened before.
You see what took me years to understand and what I’m even still seeking to fully grasp is that no one, not me, not you, not the pastor you YouTube and not even the disciples could’ve lived in a pure and holy enough way that would earn them the title “Christian.” The only reason anyone can call themselves a Christian is if they believe in Jesus Christ and what He did that enables us to have a way to God the Father. What makes us Christians is that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot earn salvation, it is a free gift from God that He offers to us through Jesus and we have the choice to either accept or reject it. Accepting this gift is what enables us to say with confidence that we are Christians. It’s all about what Jesus did on the cross for us and not what we do today that might seem “good” by this world’s standards.
Living with an overflow of love in your heart comes from having a healthy understanding of what Jesus did for you out of a love that is humanly incomprehensible. To know that Jesus died for me in spite of all my sins! Willingly taking the nails through His body on that cross even though He knows that I might refuse to accept and believe what He had done for me. It blows my mind and I just have to love others in return, but not out of obligation but through joy and love.
So don’t feel like less of a Christian if you sinned more that usual, because it doesn’t and will never change what Jesus already did for you. Place all your focus on Him and through this He will make you a new creation. God doesn’t want a better, cleansed up version of you, He just wants you as you are with or without sin, it doesn’t intimidate Him, He only wants you to enter into a relationship with Him. He loves you in spite of your sin and your issues and your problems. He loves you more than you could imagine and you just have accept Him.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20 NLT)
I’ll end with one of my favorite Scriptures and I really hope that reading this leads you to understand that Jesus>Religion (in the words of Jefferson Bethke lol) and that you see that He loves you so so much! 🙂
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT)