Becoming a Christian is different than being called a Christian. What does it take to truly become a Christian? It starts with GOD and not gods. A god is what you want to spend your time with, it is the thing that you worship and that which you want to control your life. If you believe in GOD then you should know that he is the one thing in your life that you need. In fact GOD himself told us “You shall have no other gods besides ME.” (Ex 20:3). To believe in the One True GOD that is immortal, all powerful, creator and sustainer of all things does not make you a Christian as there are other religions such as Islam and Judaism that believe that. Beyond believing in GOD is to believe in and follow Christ.
Christ is GOD’s love sent to us as a man to give us an example of how to live your life here on earth so that you can be pleasing to GOD. Christ’s life is an example to us and by HIS death HE took on our sinfulness so that we can be saved and claim kinship before GOD. Christ’s actions during His life are a pattern for us to model our lives after. Additionally, when Jesus was still with his disciples, HE promised that after His resurrection and ascension, the Holy Spirit would be given to all who believe (Jn 14:16). This Holy Spirit works in believers beside their own spirit to counsel us, assure us and help us in all situations we face in life. As a Christian, we profess our belief in the creeds that GOD, as we can understand HIM is to us Father, Son and Holy Spirit the Triune, One and Only GOD, Creator of all we know and to whom we live out our life for. This is our profession of Faith as a Christian.
Believing all of the above we may be called a Christian, BUT we still may not be living as a Christian. So how do we become a Christian? The path to becoming a Christian is a life long journey that moves us to live in the same manner as Christ did. Like us, Jesus had a profession. He was a carpenter, he was the oldest in a family and when his father died he became the head of that family. He did all this and then went on to become our savior. If we wish to become a Christian by living in the example of Christ, we must develop the qualities in us that Christ had in Himself. The first is love and from that the other qualities follow. These qualities include a thirst for the truth, faith in both good and bad times, humility, patience, kindness, self-control and more. As we can see the list is daunting but it goes beyond attending church and must include attending to the world we live in. There is no one person that can change the whole world but we are not asked to do that. We are commanded to live our life in our part of the world so as to be an example to others we meet every day so that some may be saved. Many devout Christians have written about how we can change ourselves to follow God. In Romans (Ro 6:15-22), Paul writes in frank terms that we need to be slaves to righteousness so we may be saved instead of slaves to sin which condemns us. Martin Luther used the parable of a tree bearing either good or bad fruit (Mt 7:17-20, Lk 6:43-45) when he wrote that good works don’t make a good person just as evil works don’t make a wicked person and then he went on to say that a person must first be good or wicked in their inner being to do good or evil works. Other people watch our actions and they will judge for themselves if you are living for Christ or you are not. Lying, anger, gossip, and a list of other actions we make, take us farther away from what God has intended for us and show to others how much of a “Christian” we really are.
So practically what do we have to do to become truly a Christian and have others know that? Paul said get rid of envy, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, disobedience, lack of understanding, infidelity, lack of love, etc.(Ro 1:29-32). If you get grumbling or arguing about things or gossiping about others, that can separate you from God (Php 2:13-16) (Pr 11:12-13). We can go on, but it all comes down to changing ourselves by getting rid of those habits of ours that lead us down the road which separates us from God.
All that is good but how can I change my habits? The first thing to recognize is that other than going to common worship on Sunday, we should be no different in our speech and actions on that day than on any other day of our life. Wesley had a daily plan for that when he wrote that each morning we should “fore think what you have to do” and in the evening “examine whether you have done what you ought”. Secondly, conversation with God, that is PRAYER, needs to be on going. When you are in any situation talk to God about it, not only before the situation but during and after it. Praying to God is no different than talking to your best friend and having them listen. Third, we need to “Play the long game”. People think that we are born, we live and then we die, but I know that we are born, we live and then we have a life after life. How can we know that? We know that because it is all written in the “Book of Wisdom” that most people call “the Bible”. The last thing besides reading the Bible is to get out into the “stream of life”. While sharing your Faith with the people you know from church is comforting to both you and them it is not the reality of life outside the church. Where the Truth of God needs to be seen is outside the doors of the church. Christ knew this as he shared the “Good News” with beggars, prostitutes, tax collectors and all other types of people. Christ knew this when he comforted them, when he took mercy on them, when he ate with them and when he died for them. Outside the doors of the church are people smiling on the outside but broken on the inside. They are out of hope, out of friends, out on the street, and even strung out on drugs. Why? Perhaps because during their lifetime they have never seen a living example of Christ’s Love from a person like you. The Disciple Group recommends that you ask yourself the question, “If other people watch my actions will they be convinced that I am living for Christ?” The time is now to start changing yourself to the model that Christ gave to us. Let others see Jesus in you!