As we reach the end of Holy Week in the Christian tradition it would behoove all of us who have found salvation through Jesus Christ to do a bit of an introspective examination of what it means to be a Christian. The title “Christian” tends to be cavalierly tossed around without much analysis.
“Christ died for our sins,” would be a common response one would hear when asking the question of one of our Christ-claiming neighbors. But, in truth, that response does not even begin to touch the varnish on what it actually means to be a follower of Jesus. In today’s culture of “easy-believism” simply identifying as a Christian does not carry a whole lot of sway. Recent research demonstrates that nearly 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians. Does simply calling oneself a Christian make you one?
Ignorance is one of a “believer’s” greatest hinderances. Simply “believing” is wrought with booby traps as the Scriptures tell us that even the demons “believe.” So, being a genuine Christian must mean more than just a hat-tip to the Son of God in our acknowledgement of His sacrifice upon the cross. Yes, “Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sins,” but is acknowledging that fact really all that is required for one to self-identify as a Christian?
Does the average “believer” utterly understand what that means? Is going to church, walking an aisle, and repeating a prayer really all that is required to be a child of God? Is faithful Sunday church attendance, celebration of the feasts and Holy Days, and a prayer at dinner time fit the requirements of entrance into God’s Kingdom?
I remember a discussion I had one time with a Sunday churchgoing, non-Christian regarding his sanding with the King of Kings.
“Why, I was raised in church my whole life. I was born a Methodist.”
I could not resist the opening. “That explains a lot. You need to be born again.”
I think he is still scratching his head.
Christianity is more than simply repeating a “sinner’s prayer.” The nation is full of folks who walked an aisle and repeated the prayer. Although that process of public repentance is a requirement for entrance into God’s family it is not the only one. Simply being “born” into a Christian home does not make one a Christian. There is no such thing as a “cradle to grave” Christian.Salvation is a deeply spiritual moment where one exchanges his/her life for the Life of Jesus.
Christianity is a covenant, a deal if you will. Noah Webster defined covenant as “a mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or thing; a contract; stipulation.”
God gave man a New Covenant…a better deal…actually…when He sent His Son as a payment of our debt of sin. Most Americans understand that Jesus “died for our sins,” which was HIM holding up HIS part of this New and Everlasting Covenant. Yes, Jesus. died on the cross for OUR sins, but what is required as OUR part of this “deal?” If Jesus died for the whole “world” does not that make every person a Christian? What’s the deal?
I sense the pushback coming from some of the more legalistic believers who are wanting to accuse me of promoting a “works” Gospel. Nothing could be further from the Truth. I believe in grace alone, through faith alone, but there is a requirement to uphold our part of the Covenant. Remember, covenant is a MUTUAL agreement.
Jesus sacrificed HIS life as His part of the deal. What is OUR part of the deal? What do we bring to the table in exchange for HIS life?
Our life. True Christianity will cost you YOUR life. That completes the Covenant. Jesus laid down HIS life for you and all He asks is that YOU lay down YOUR life for HIM. Done deal. Signed in blood.
But modern Christianity has lost this message. We are constantly reminded of HIS sacrifice…HIS love for us. But what is OUR skin in the game? It is the missing link in this New Covenant that was signed in HIS blood.
The Apostle Paul explains that “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Jesus died for us and all He requires is that We live for Him. A covenant. Quid pro quo. He dies for us and we live to Him.
Much of Christianity has lost sight of this reality. We are told in the Book of Romans that we are to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Reasonable service? Would it be safe to assume that reasonable service could be translated as the least we can do? Jesus died for us, so dedicating our lives in service of Him is REASONABLE! The LEAST we can do? Have you done that?
This nation is in the condition we are in because, for the most part, most Christians are not willing to lay anything on the line for the cause of Christ. This one-way covenant has hindered the advancement of the Kingdom because too many Christians have counted the cost of getting personally involved and determined they were not willing to make the sacrifice required.
All Jesus wants is YOU. When you accepted Christ as your Savior you were given a commission. A commission is a military charge. A command…and order. “Go ye” is an order…not a suggestion. He died for you and your part of the deal was that you would LIVE for HIM.
As you reflect on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ this weekend ask yourself this remarkably simple question. What has following Christ cost you?
A costless Christianity is no Christianity at all. Jesus died that you might live. Live for him. He is counting on you. If you remain silent God’s voice is silenced. He is living and speaking through you. It is time for us to keep our part of that sacred covenant.
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E-Mail Dave Daubenmire: firstname.lastname@example.org