A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Real Christianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Real Christianity. Show all posts

March 18, 2023

Being A Christian: The Light of Christ

I'm sure you have experienced this as I have ... when the subject of faith comes up, people often define themselves by saying, "I am a Christian". But what does that really mean to them? Is there a universal understanding of what makes someone a Christian? Does the person who describes him or herself with that designation have a fixed and unalterable idea of what the term means? I ask because I think it is important for the effectiveness of the Christian faith for those who identify as such to be able to discern and clarify the characteristics, attributes, and values of a Christian. 

When my husband and I are meeting someone who has been referred to our ministry, we take the time to sit and visit with them in order to make them comfortable with us, of course, but also to establish how they view and experience their faith. How a person views God will ultimately determine how they live their life on this earth, especially as a Christian. We explain, that the heart of our ministry is to partner with Jesus to help them attain the freedom and abundant life that He died to give them. We don't have any magic pill to make the pain of this world [or anger, fear, shame, or unworthiness, etc.] go away. We can only offer them Jesus, and we work within His guidelines.

Invariably, they respond with "I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus". Some can elucidate their faith quite well; showing an erudite understanding of God's expectations of the Christian life and His redemptive plan for all mankind through faith in His Son, Jesus. They know the history of this divine plan and they know the future that He promises us -- both the miracles, signs, wonders and eternal life, along with the struggles and persecution. Being a Christian to them is more than just a name. It's a condition of their heart and spirit.

Then there are those who say they are a Christian, and are Saved, yet when we ask, "If you were to die right now, are you certain you would go to Heaven", they are unable to say yes. Some will say they are a Christian, but express doubts concerning their salvation. But they identify as a Christian because "I come from a Christian family". 

I bring these thoughts up because I believe it is most important in this particular time in world history that we are in need of true Christians who follow the teachings, commandments, practices, and example of Jesus's life in order to overcome the evil that threatens our very existence. But for too many self-identifying Christians, it has become as simple as appropriating the label because they own a Bible or go to Church. In all honesty, that is probably how I started out on my "Christian walk". I didn't pursue Him out of a hungry spirit to know my Creator and my purpose. In fact, I didn't even realize that I couldn't just choose to become a Christian. I had to answer the invitation or calling on my life and then repent [or change the way I lived my life; viewing how I lived from my Heavenly Father's perspective]. That requires developing a real relationship with Him so I can hear His voice and begin the journey for His kingdom that I was sent here to do. And being baptized was an important part of changing from my old sinful existence into a new covenant by being born again by water and receiving the Holy Spirit, who would begin to counsel and teach me the spiritual truth of God and His Word. 

I submit to you that it is important for us to truly understand [and agree!] on what it means to be a Christian. Otherwise, it's too easy to settle for being religious or claiming that our excellent moral conduct is the standard that qualifies us to be a Christian. [And we know how hypocritical that can look to the lost who we are supposed to be showing, by example, why they should receive Jesus's invitation to follow Him]. Far too often, that only leads us to imitating our idea of what a Christian looks like, instead of imitating all that Jesus was and did. And that flawed imitation often leads to judgment of others, which can lead to the squelching or suppression of the movements of God among those He has called and invited to represent Him. That limits what God wants to do in His redemptive plan; what He can offer to elevate our understanding, relationship, and participation with Him. 

It's not about expecting everyone to look like our version of a Christian which can lead to comparisons and indictments of imperfect faith! God is so big and can do a mighty work with someone who does not look or act or sound like us. He didn't make us all from a cookie cutter mold, and the only comparison we should be making is whether a person resembles Jesus. Is he [or she] kind, righteous, modest, compassionate, trustworthy, forgiving, faithful, loving, discerning? Are they steadfast in the face of mistreatment, discrimination, or persecution; able to teach, prophecy and encourage? Unwilling to compromise their beliefs in the commands of God? Do they speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with reverence, seeking to share the Good News of their salvation and the kingdom that is theirs? No one can entirely embody the perfection that is Jesus. But if we can recognize a heart that focuses on following Him as much as is humanly possible, then I think that is the definition of a Christian.

I admit that I have not attained the fulfillment of that goal. None of us have. But I am continuing to pursue my purpose in God's plan, and I can certainly discern those who are trying to do the same. And I am willing to accept that God may be doing something different in someone else to show an attribute of Himself that I do not possess. And I trust the Holy Spirit to show me who is a true representative and spokesman, and who is a false mouthpiece of the enemy. I never want to inhibit a move of God in another's life, nor do I want to fall for lies and deception. A true Christian will be so in tune with the gifts of the Holy Spirit that there will be no doubts. 

Father, help us to take our focus off the world's definition of what it means to be a Christian. After all, the world didn't understand our faith after Christ's ascension in the first century, and we've had 2000 years to confuse the nature, scope and significance of our identity. Let us become what it originally meant ... "little Christ's". May we all become true imitators of all He was. Let the Enemy of God and his agents be put on notice that "as Jesus was, so shall we be". The world needs us to grow up into the maturity of being Your representatives and no longer compromise nor tolerate the strategies of the devil. Let us take off the Christian "mask" and reveal the true identity of a Christian ... a child of God; a spirit joined to Jesus; the temple of the Holy Spirit; a conqueror in Christ; a daughter/son of the King; a healer; part of a royal priesthood; an ambassador of Heaven and the Kingdom of God; the light of Christ; and so much more through the grace and faithfulness of our Lord. These attributes are far from complete, but I thank you for sending us to represent You, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in this place and this time. It is a privilege to submit all I am and all I have to Your cause. Amen!

#whatisachristian #meaningofchristian #representingjesus #littlechrists #christianmeaning #thelightofchrist

Ephesians 5:8    For once you were darkness, but now in union with the Lord, you are light. Walk as children of light.  







September 24, 2022

How Do You Recognize A Christian?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the state of the Christian faith and how we will measure up to the coming troubles that the world seems to be hurtling towards. Which got me to pondering how the world will view us, and exactly what will be expected of us in the midst of our uncertain future. What's more, what do we expect from each other? Do we know what we are supposed to do, and will we recognize our responsibilities as Christians?

These days, being called a Christian is not necessarily applauded in our culture. The name "Christian" has become so entangled with social, cultural and political causes that the secular population judges us by whether they agree with which side of these issues we come down on. Maybe the better question is, how will we know each other, and how do we want to be recognized?

Some will say we should be appreciated and recognized for our declaration and obedience to our faith. And the Bible says, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. But how does that identify us to a lost world? Where is the evidence of faith? The proof? How did the 1st Century Christians identify as ... well, Christians? What was it that made the world take note of them and see that they were different from the rest of mankind? 

The Bible's Book of Acts gives us the best historical view of what that era looked like from the perspective of those who had to decide who they were and what they were supposed to do. The First Century was arguably one of the most dangerous times in the history of Christianity. The success of Jesus's assignment on earth rested on the actions, deeds, and words of a few men and women who dared to represent the new faith in the face of an Empire and a religious system that were determined to eradicate them and stamp out the embers of a growing movement that threatened to spread like wildfire. 

In the First Century, if you walked in your Christian faith, you could expect to be persecuted by both the Roman Empire and the Jewish authorities, both of whom felt threatened because this new Christianity didn't follow the rules of their established class systems. Christians treated everyone as equal, and were willing to share all they had with those less fortunate. Christians were willing to lose everything they had -- their prestige and influence, even their lives -- to follow a radical idea of putting others before yourself. Furthermore, they had the boldness and courage to argue that God was the exclusive authority in their lives; above the Emperor and the Rabbi!

That's a rather simplified version of what Christianity in the Book of Acts was all about. The influence of Christians was much more radical, bold, and costly than what I've written. This was the time when Christians were fed to the lions as stadiums full of people roared their approval. It was a time when Christians were used as human torches by the Emperor Nero. Their villages and synagogues were burned and they had to flee to the hills in order to survive. Ultimately, the faithful Disciples had to decide if they were going to fade back into Jewish society and hide out from the Romans who saw them as dissidents, or whether they truly believed what Jesus had taught them and commanded them ... to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Once the Holy Spirit came on them in power [just as Jesus said He would], there was no denying the truth and the power of this new "Way" that they were to live. 

And it is important to understand why Jesus chose those particular places. He wanted His disciples to be a witness about Him in Jerusalem (where He was crucified); in Judea (where His ministry was rejected by His fellow Jews); in all of Samaria (where the Disciples looked down on the inhabitants of the land who were Israelites that had intermarried with the foreigners and adopted their idolatrous religion); and to the ends of the earth (where they were strangers and would be witnessing to people who knew nothing of their faith). In other words, this new faith of Christianity was open to everyone -- to those who were your declared enemies; to people who were open sinners; and to people whom you have nothing in common with. Jesus was leaving us a record of what it looked like to call yourself a Christian, and it was a thoroughly and comprehensively revolutionary idea!

So, do we fit that description? Are we willing to surrender our pride and worldly comforts to offer everyone a picture of Christ? Are we bold enough to stand out in the world and willing to pay the price to call ourselves a Christian? Are we strong enough to go it alone with an assignment that Christ gives us -- or do we need the comfort and safety of the Christian crowd? In the First Century, if you were willing to be called a Christian, it was a certainty that your life would be radically altered as you embarked on a lifestyle that bore fruit for the glory of Jesus and God. Has your lifestyle changed? Is there evidence that you are separate from the culture? Are you willing to walk in uncomfortable and unfamiliar circumstances to share who Jesus is in your life, and who you are in His Kingdom? 

Yes, it was dangerous and difficult to be a Christian in the First Century. But do not be deceived into believing that the world accepts us more today than it did 2000 years ago. And I'm not talking about "nominal" Christians; those who are Christians in name only, and because they call themselves by that title. Those Christians will be able to assimilate into the world that's coming. I'm talking about Christians like those in the Book of Acts; those who understood they were in the cross-hairs of both the political and religious governmental bodies... and they didn't back down. It is these Christians who will know the persecution, discrimination, tyranny and oppression of a world that wants nothing to do with Christ. 

BUT, we have the knowledge and the confidence that the Christians who walk in the authentic faith and ways of our Lord Jesus, will be part of God's holy remnant. They will carry the hope of victory, restoration, and a return to God's righteous ways. They will receive power, authority, and favor to carry out their assignments and glorify God, the Father; Jesus, the Son; and the Holy Spirit. Now is the time to make a decision if you will be that Christian! I have no doubt that there are those of us who have made that decision and will walk in genuine and sincere Christianity... and I look forward to recognizing you! 

#realchristianity #authenticfaith #christianidentity #christianremnant

1 John 2:19   They went out from us [seeming at first to be Christians], but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be clearly shown that none of them are of us.