Christianity is not what most people perceive it as. Many people will recognize me as a Christian and the immediate response I have received is “Oh, I didn’t know you were religious?”
In actuality, a Christian isn’t defined by their religious practices. To be a Christian means you have developed a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people may not understand this and that is the reasoning behind my desire to write this article.
When I think about the difference before and after having a relationship with Jesus, I end up picturing myself as a child refusing to taste a new food for the first time. I have had no reason not to try and taste the delicious food that my parents had offered me time and time again, but I was just selfishly being reluctant. I think too often we become selfishly reluctant to try or spiritually taste something we know could be good. And that was me, refusing to taste what a relationship with Jesus could be like.
Little did I know, it was more than any career, lifestyle, amount of money or anything in this world could ever offer me. All it took was a few steps in God’s direction; once I tasted how good God was, my heart was no longer harden, and my eyes were no longer blinded to the world God has created. So now that I am a Christian, what does this mean?
What is a Christian?
The title “Christian” was first used in the city Antioch, this can be found in the Bible, in Acts 11:26 when Saul and Barnabus went to Antioch to spread the Gospel. There they stayed for a whole year and preached to many people. The translation of Christian means “followers of Christ”.
So to be a follower of Christ or what we now call a Christian, what does it mean we believe in? We believe Jesus Christ was God’s only son who He sent to live and dwell with us so we could know how much God truly loves us. We believe he not only lived on earth with us but that he died for us as the ultimate sacrifice so that one day, we too can experience Heaven in the presence of God. We believe he died on a cross for our transgressions and was risen from the dead by God Himself! We believe the teachings found within in the Bible are true and are accurate historical encounters of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Many will respond to this by stating that the bible is just story handed down for generations. But it is far greater than any story ever told! You see, the Bible is broken up into two major sections, the Old Testament, which is before Jesus’s birth and the New Testament, which speaks about Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the spreading of the Gospel.
Each testament is then broken down into books which are written from different individuals perspectives, some disciples, but others shepherds, fishermen, or even a kings. Each of the Bible writers came from completely different backgrounds and were exposed to entirely different cultures.
Most of these individuals never met each other and even lived hundreds of years apart from one another. Yet, the accuracy of events that were prophesized about years before have proven time and time again to be true. From the very first sentence of Genesis, until the birth of Jesus in Matthew, there is foretelling of God’s one and only son who was to come and be sacrificed for all of mankind. Let me inform you as well, that the Bible was not a piece of literature thrown together with no guidance, Oh No! The Holy Spirit led these writers and also gave them knowledge of what was and still is yet to come. As Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:20-21 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Our Relationship with God
You may hear someone say a believer is ” in Christ”. This is seen in several pieces of scripture within the Bible, but what it means is that we have fully accepted Jesus’s sacrifice as a payment for our own sin. Like in Colossians 3:3 says “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Now stop and think about this, if someone gave their life for you and you didn’t even know them, how would that make you feel? I know I would feel disappointed that I couldn’t have known that person because of such a sacrifice they have made for me. And this is where God proves to be amazing once again! We do have the ability to have a relationship with Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit!
Long before God came to the virgin Mary and told her that she would bear a child, He knew his son, Jesus Christ, was the only way that all the people could be forgiven for their sins. Jesus knew this. His love for everyone on earth exceeded any pain he could endure and that is because he knew God’s pure love. While Jesus was here on earth, he showed us a true relationship with God and how we should carry ourselves. Jesus said ” As the Father has loved me, so have I love you. Now remain in my love” John 15:9.
This loving relationship with God is sustained in different ways. One way is through daily prayer. We can communicate with God by laying down our sins, asking for forgiveness, giving thanks, and by asking Him for things we need. This type of intimate communication is so important to a Christian. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us exactly that, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The Change In Your Heart
There are many changes that happen once you come to Christ but the most obvious change you see in yourself and others is the change of heart. Jesus was sent here so we could learn from him and be shown how great God’s love is for us. Once you experience your life with Jesus, you too will want to live as Jesus did. Live to give more than to receive, to be kind to everyone, to love one another, to help the less fortunate, and to spread the Word of God. You then will see other things change as well.
Worldly possessions become less important or desiring to you. The high salary job you have been working so hard to earn, may not seem of interest to you anymore. Your longing for expensive clothes and a new car isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you earn extra money. You will begin to yearn for more knowledge and truth. You see, the closer we are to God, the further away we are from ourselves. Some of you may be thinking, well I don’t want to “lose myself”. The truth is, God has always known and knows who you are, the true you. He knows you more than you ever will! If we choose to follow Christ, that worldly created-self dies, and a new and real you are born. Just as Paul shares in his letter in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Heaven is our Hope
Once we become familiar with the Bible, we then realize that this world is not forever our home. Throughout the Old and New Testament, the creation of a New Heaven and a New Earth is mentioned. So from the beginning of our journey with Christ, we are continually transforming ourselves, from a new heart, to a new you, to a new way of life, as we await a New Earth.
This longing for a New Earth is where our hope lies as Christians. If we know the love we have for God is pure and we continue to have an everlasting relationship with Jesus Christ, then what is to stop us from believing all the wonderful things that are to come after Jesus’s return to earth?!
Jesus’s disciples had such a pure love for God and Jesus that they too knew the rest of what had been promised to them was indeed true! This is why so many of them stood their ground when they were shamed, harassed, or beaten. And many of them were beaten to death. But their hope lied in the love they had for God and one another. They too knew there was more than what we experienced on earth. Jesus even said“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4
Being a Christian is more than just a religion, it is about the everlasting relationship we all can have through Jesus Christ. It has proven to change all those, inside and out who take the steps towards Christ. I invite you right now, if you truly desire a better life with less of you and more of God, to pray that Jesus comes into your life. For “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10: 9-10