Christianity is not about a religion of rules and laws, it’s about a relationship…a deep, spiritual relationship with God, with His Son Jesus the Christ, and with the Holy Spirit. Far beyond being a simple belief or faith system, being Christian is who and what we are. When we aspire to truly live the teachings and principles of Christ, His light shines through us; and we become living examples of His love. Following Jesus, “being a Christian,” is more than something we do, it is our Way of Life.
“You’re not likely to err by practicing too much of the cross.”
We’ve talked of some of this before, so our message today is brief. And, though brief, I believe the topic is one worth repeating. I hope that, perhaps because it’s briefs, it’s a message you will take with you, think about and pray over, and let the transformative power of Jesus’ love become your Way of Life.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord, our lives should be transformed by His Spirit living in and through us. Let’s take a look at just a few Scripture passages that speak to how we should live our lives when we proclaim ourselves to be Christian:
- Proverbs 14:29 – “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
- Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- 1 Peter 3:15 – “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
- Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
When things don’t go our way, do we respond with anger?
When someone gets something we wish we could have, do we get jealous?
How do we respond when someone cuts us off in traffic…do we pound our steering wheel, flip them off, or curse at them?
How about when others don’t behave in ways we think they should…do we call them names like idiot or jerk…or worse?
Do we swear like a drunken sailor?
How about when someone has wronged us…do we hold on to hurt, anger, and thoughts of vengeance?
Do we truly treat others as we would like to be treated? (Matthew 7:12 & Luke 6:31)
Though it doesn’t make me proud, I’ll be honest, I’ve done (or failed to do) all of these, and more. By the grace of God, over time, as I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve gotten much better. Am I all the way there yet – have I reached perfection? Absolutely not. I’m still on this journey. But I know I’m further along today than I was yesterday.
I’m sure the same can be said of each of you. But, think about it. Are you still plagued by anger, hate, jealousy, rudeness, unforgiveness, quarreling, filthy language, etc. How are these feeling, and the actions that result from them, ever helpful? How do they demonstrate we are followers of Christ?
The short answer is – they aren’t and they don’t. In fact, as Jesus said about the Sadducees and Pharisees, when we allow these thoughts, feelings, and actions to invade our lives we are hypocrites. We are not living the faith we so proudly claim. Which is why we must be ever mindful of these feelings and behaviors as they occur. And we must strive to replace them with thoughts, feelings, and actions that are an example of Christ at work in our lives. The more we do, the more it becomes ingrained in us, and the more truly living our faith becomes a part of who we are…it becomes our Way of Life.
James 1:19-26 – “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”
As our opening hymn declared of His love – is our love for one another so genuine, so much a part of our lives that it is vast, unmeasured, boundless, and free? Does it roll like the ocean over us?
If we claim ourselves to be Christian, it must be more than a faith system. Christianity is about developing such a strong relationship with God, through His Son, that our lives are transformed. Following Christ, practicing the way of the cross, is so much more than a religion – it is a Way of Life.
- Proverbs 14:29
- Galatians 5:22-23
- 1 Peter 3:15
- Ephesians 4:31-32
- Matthew 7:12
- Luke 6:31
- James 1:19-26
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