Keep it Simple Series
To be a Christian is to be like Jesus Christ, to be ‘imitators of Christ’, to live and to love as He did. All who are disciples [followers] of Jesus Christ then, now and in the future, are called Christians. Christianity is the world’s largest faith with over two billion Christians worldwide (source: http://www.pewresearch.org). Christianity was born out of the death and resurrection (reawakening, rebirth) of Jesus. The following scripture tells us what God did for us and why He did it: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16].
To be a Christian is to believe in Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of the living God, that He came to die for the sins of the world, and that He will one day return to reward His followers and judge the rest of the world. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4].
But believing in Jesus is just the first step in becoming a Christian. On the foundation of that belief, we must do as Christ did. We need to follow through with our actions. Jesus did the will of God the Father, by living a holy life and spreading the gospel (good news), and we too should follow Jesus’ example. Live a holy life and spread the good news to the world. But there is more! We must love each other and have compassion as Jesus did, otherwise it is all for nothing. If we do all that is asked of us but do not do it with love in our hearts, we are wasting our time.
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, the Bible tells us; “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. So the Christian must love as Jesus loves.
Christianity is also referred to as being a religion and Christians as religious. But this is not so. And if the original meaning of religion had not changed through the ages, this would be acceptable. However, the Christian is not religious because we have a real relationship with God; so Christianity is a Faith and we are the faithful. The Christian’s belief is not in a set of man-made religious rules but in God, His love and His teachings. This concept however is not an easy one to understand as religion and faith are used interchangeably.
Faith is a complete trust or confidence in someone, based on spiritual conviction. It is a different belief system from that of believing in each other, the limited abilities of human beings, super-human beings, man-made images, inanimate objects or animals.
Adhering to religion and religious practices demonstrates belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially (but not always) a personal God. The Christian completely believes in God; and not anything nor anyone else. Much of the religious beliefs have been dictated by traditions, cultures, habits, vain desires and power seekers with the need to control.
Being religious and being faithful are worlds apart. Religion and religious practices encourage people to depend on their own works, strength and ability to succeed. Religion says, ‘I must go to church every Sunday to be holy, because if I don’t people will think I’m not a Christian.’ In this example, your faith lies in people and what they think of you and not in Christ. Your reason for going to church becomes rooted in pleasing man and not in pleasing God. Faith on the other hand says, ‘going to church every Sunday does not make you a Christian. If you can’t make it to church sometimes, God will not hold it against you.’
You go to church because you choose to; you love God and you want to worship Him of your own free will, not because you feel pressured into it. If you follow Christ you will not go wrong. In all things, He is the example for the Christian.
1 Corinthians 13