Think about it. After I accepted Jesus as my Savior I found myself wondering, “…now what?” I mean, I was excited, but …in what direction? At that time, and in the church I was going to, there was not really any discipling. It was kind of, “O.K., we got his name in the book. Who’s next!”
So, what is the “new Christian” supposed to… well, do? I had a pretty good idea of what I wasn’t supposed to do. You know; all those, “Thou shalt not-s…” that you’re familiar with. Problem is, that’s hard to just shut off, and so I then began to wonder if my salvation had “taken”. And, the worst part was I didn’t have any one to talk to about it.
So, let me give you a few tips I’ve learned over a lot of years, a lot of trials, and in general a lot of stumbling around.
When we accept Jesus we invite Him into our lives. What does that mean? Well it means, for one thing we literally get the Holy Spirit as a resident in our body. It also means, that we are committing ourselves to not just following Jesus, but also working to become more like Him – one day at a time, every day. And the key word here is “working”. We are all works in process.
Now, in the interest of helping others avoid perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life, let me start with something that took me a long time to learn. Tip one:
To become more like Jesus you have to get to know Jesus.
Most folks will say you do that by reading the Bible. I disagree.* The Bible will tell you a lot about Jesus. And that’s both good and necessary. But, the goal is not to just know about Jesus; our goal is to know Jesus.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you make a new acquaintance. You decide you’d like to know this person better, perhaps even become good friends. How would you go about this? I presume you would arrange to spend time with this person, during which you would communicate. You would talk, they would listen. They would talk, you would listen. And chances are very good that the more time you spend together, and the more talking back and forth you do, the more you’ll come to know one another. And, even though you may learn that you come from very different backgrounds; you might also, find a bond developing… a true friendship.
Now, let me remind you of something that should totally blow your mind. The Great and Awesome God – the Creator of space, the universe and time – wants to have conversations with you! You were created for that very purpose. So, talk to Him, then listen for His answers. Oh yes, He will answer. Maybe directly – but, maybe not. Read your Bible, and be ready for God to speak to you through what you’re reading. And, be aware that God will sometimes speak to you through other people. It may be soon; or, it could be later… sometimes much later. Wait for it. Again, it’s a process. You will get better at hearing God the more the two of you communicate.
You may feel silly at first. That’s perfectly acceptable. God understands. Just tell Him how you feel, and what your thinking. Tell Him that you want to hear from Him. That you want a relationship with Him. Tell Him you know He wrote the book on you, and you want to start living your life according to His script. (O.K., I get it. That’s scary. But, consider this. God created you. He knows you. He accepted you as you were. He loves you. And, He wants only what is absolutely the best for you. If you live your life according to His plan for you, the rest of the world had better just stand back; because I can guarantee you, it is going to be very interesting (not always easy, mind you) but, it will be one awesome life. Period.
Tip two. Remember God created and still creates truth, beauty and goodness. Since God creates truth, beauty, and goodness; and, since we are to pattern our lives after Him, we pursue these things. No, I don’t expect you to create another universe. But, we can create beautiful things. We can design things, build things, work on projects, compose, paint, dance, sing, play music, teach, form positive relationships, restore broken relationships, help others… well, I hope you get the idea.
Satan works against God. Evil, pain, sickness, immorality, depravity, etc. do NOT come from God; and, we must fight against them. When we see broken-ness, we need to work to repair it. For instance, we were assigned (by God) to be stewards (caretakers/guardians) of the planet and all life on the planet. So cleaning up our oceans, the air, restoring habitat for animals, recycling, etc. would all fall into that assignment. Helping other people? Of course. On a personal level, forgiving people who have wronged us, is a pretty good way to move forward in our walk with Jesus. The point here is, if it’s not of God, we need to fight against it. AND REMEMBER, take your best friend with you – right from the start. (I’m talking about Jesus, here.). Doing battle with Satan is not easy. For starters, he doesn’t fight fair. He’s sneaky, slimy, the master of lies, disguise, and deceit. You will need Jesus for these battles. Trying to do it on your own, is dangerous. The good news is, Jesus is on your side and that dramatically changes the odds.
My third tip is: Don’t get hung-up on that last paragraph. Concentrate on the one before it. The one about pursuing goodness, truth and beauty. After all, even when fighting Satan – that’s how you do it. Everyday, make it a point to make someone smile. Do that good deed. Go that extra mile for someone or something. Ask God to make you aware of opportunities to serve others… and, by extension, Him. Then keep your eyes and ears open. You’ll be amazed at what you see and hear! Look for God in what we call “coincidence”. I bet you’ll decide true coincidences are at least quite rare… and, just maybe, nonexistent.
My last tip. Read and commit your life to what you find in Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus made it simple and clear. Don’t let your ‘religion’ cloud your vision. Jesus went to the Temple; but, He didn’t hang out there. He was too busy encountering the people who needed Him… where they lived. Today, He still does.
⃰ Let’s get back to that reading the Bible thing. It’s good, even important, to also know about Jesus. (I just think prayer is more important in a new Christian’s life than anything else.) That said, you do need to read the Bible. Reading the Bible will teach you more about more subjects than you can possibly imagine at this time. You will also find Jesus speaking to you through what you are reading. Prayer and reading the Bible are mutually supportive (symbiotic even?) of/with one another; and a beautiful example of how God’s very presence is everywhere… if you’re looking and listening.