Ask me what it means to be a Christian and I will tell you that first you need to understand what I believe. I believe God, who created the Universe and everything in it, loves me and wants to have a relationship with me.
I believe Sin is knowing wrong from right; but, doing wrong anyway. This is what our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve did. By disobeying God and following Satan’s lies, they brought sin to mankind and earth. Sin has two major impacts on mankind. It blocks our relationship with God, and it ultimately leads to eternal death.
I know that out of God’s love for mankind, He made a way whereby we (individually) can have our sins blotted out as if they never existed, and we can be restored to God’s family as sons and daughters. That way is through belief in God’s only Son Jesus. He was sent to earth to be the only possible sacrifice for the sins of mankind. After living a blameless life he was falsely accused, beaten, flogged and nailed to a cross where He suffered and died for our sins. He was taken from the cross and sealed in a tomb which He walked out of, three days later. His death was the sacrifice for our sins, His resurrection was proof of His deity as God’s Son—and, our guarantee of eternal life.
So, back to the original question of, what does it mean to be a Christian? It means I do not have to a live life that is meaningless and full of sin, with nothing to look forward to but death. It means a new life of love, hope, peace, joy, and fulfilling work. A meaningful life on earth that will seamlessly transition to an eternal life, in an eternal body, when I am called to Heaven—my true home.
It means I trust in Christ and follow Him as my Lord.
Now, all of that was in preparation for this:
26Just as the body without breath is dead, so faith is also dead without good works. [James 2:26. NLT]
This verse has created a lot of controversy and dissension over the years. Which is more important for a Christian: belief or works? It is amazing to me how people can argue and bicker over moot points.
In the New Testament there is no separation between belief and obedience. They are linked as one because if you truly believe, …you will truly follow. And, I submit that if you are following Christ, you are obeying Christ, and doing the work Christ has for you.
God does His part, and we must do ours. I consider my wife a gift from God. Do I ever have to work at my marriage? Yes! Do I enjoy the work? Not always—but, I still do it. Is it worth it? Without a doubt!
Perhaps, you love to play the piano. God gifted you with a love for music; and, a talent for playing the piano. Did you still have to work at piano lessons? I’m betting the answer is, “yes”. Was it 100% fun? I’m guessing, …”no”! Lots of practice? “Oh yeah”. Worth it? “Absolutely”.
The point I hope I’ve made here is that salvation and “works” go hand in hand—with salvation leading the way. Because you believe, you follow. Belief (trust/faith) gets us into God’s Kingdom. Obedience (following/working) is the evidence of your citizenship in God’s Kingdom.
There is an old hymn, the lyrics were written by John H. Sammis in 1887. The chorus goes, “…Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
The concept was originally given to us about 2,000 years ago. Then about 130± years ago, I think Mr. Sammis clarified it quite well! Can we now stop arguing about it?
We have so much to be thankful for. We need only to look at nature, to praise you for longer than we’ll be here to appreciate it. Add what you have done for us and stand ready to do for us and… well, let’s just say that there will be plenty to keep us busy in eternity.
Yet we can find nits to question and argue over. And, I’m as guilty as any. Father please help me, and teach me to concentrate on Kingdom values. To understand that what you want for me is simply to trust you and follow your plan for my life. It’s not about… “what I should do for you—as pay back for all that you’ve done for me.” When I really think about it, I know it is ludicrous. And I see you shaking your head and saying, “Can’t we just keep it simple. After all, “there’s no other way!”
Thank you, Abba.