I was recently reading an article highlighting “great things about being a Christian”. Most of them were outward things, i.e. having great friends, clean fun, etc. Of course it’s always good to count your blessings and be thankful for the outward gifts we have from following Christ, I just tend to be hesitant when only presenting this side of it.
The reason I’m hesitant is that it’s only half of the story. Yes, Christ died for your sins and rose again. We have that amazing forgiveness, and I am quite literally eternally grateful for it. But we can’t forget the other side of the gospel, the war against sin.
Before I say a few things just be clear that we must talk about grace, we must talk about forgiveness, and we must talk about the great things Christ has done for us. But when we present the gospel to someone, they need to know that they become a christian for God himself, not for what He can give them.
What we also must talk about is the fact that being a genuine Christian means that we will suffer, we will be mocked, and we will have to fight sin until we die or Christ comes back.
A few convicting scriptures that have taught me a lot about not getting comfortable and always being on guard against sin are as follows.
1. Luke 9:23
Take up your cross. Anyone who will come to Christ must take up the bloody torture device that ultimately killed our savior. And we must deny ourselves.
Taking up our cross today tends to mean wearing a cross around our necks. It’s commonplace, not offensive, and quite easy in western culture.
But what Christ was getting across (no pun intended) was that
we must live our lives in such a way that we die daily to ourselves and live in obedience to Christ, even if it means physical death.
Christ quite literally took up His cross and said these things with full-knowledge that He would die. So when He tells us to take up the worst torture device known to man and to deny ourselves, we should take it quite seriously.
2. James 1:27
True religion. It sounds like an archaic term, but truthfully James is highlighting that genuine faith produces works. Among these works should be the care for the orphans and widows in need.
In Romans 8:15, we’re also reminded that every Christian that has ever lived was adopted by God Himself. We care for the orphans because we too were once orphans. In Christ we are adopted by God, and we can call to him saying, “abba!” or “Daddy!”.
Every Christian, according to this verse should be aware and be helping in some way those in need. Whether through financial giving or practical service, that’s between you and God. But we can’t do nothing.
For a great resource from Desiring God, follow this link!
A sobering statistic is that if one in every three self-proclaimed churches adopted one Child, every eligible child in the system would have a home. So what am I and the rest of going to do to help?
Despite killing sin and loving and caring for our neighbors, Christ keeps raising the bar. He tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.
This holds countless implications. One being that we were once enemies of God ourselves. And yet God still chose to save us. When we love our enemies we are being Christ-like.
Another great resource that is very timely on persecution and Christians being murdered, “Should We Pray for ISIS to Be Saved or Destroyed?“.
In conclusion, being a Christian is in fact amazing. It is filled with joys and victories over sin, but only through obedience to God in Christ.
The gospel is the power to save and to keep, and the way God keeps us is through his working in us to kill sin, love our neighbor, pray for our enemies, and ultimately find our joy in him alone.