The essence of living as a Christian is to have a personal relationship with God. Becoming a Christian is not difficult, but it has a huge impact on your whole life. It transforms who you are and what you do. Let’s see what Paul the apostle writes about living your life as a Christian in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, “He (=Christ) died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
A life with God
Our lives are not divided into areas “with God” and areas “without God”. He permeates every aspect of our lives. You can’t serve God by reading your Bible and praying, and at the same time make your own decisions about lifestyle and ethical issues. We are required to “fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12). That sounds very demanding. But if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and penetrated by God’s love, we don’t even want to keep certain aspects of our lives “for ourselves”. The Lord is so great and gracious and worthy of praise, that there is no greater joy than to live in His presence. As an old hymn sings:
“All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.”
Things only Christians do
There are aspects of the Christian life that non-believers just don’t do, such as Bible reading, praying, and attending a church. These are means of cultivating our understanding of God and of his will, ways to nourish our souls with the Word of God. This is necessary because our hearts tend to wander away from God and our minds are often blinded by sin. We continually need God’s “input” into our lives in order to grow spiritually.
It is of vital importance for believers to have patterns of spiritual discipline. In many places in the Bible, we are encouraged to do so. See for example 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
Things Christians do differently
Being a Christian also influences the way we do “ordinary” things, things that non-believers do as well. It influences the decisions we make, the way we model our daily lives, the way we raise our children, and the mindset with which we face difficulties. Living with God shapes our worldview, our hopes and expectations, and our priorities in life. That may result in a lifestyle so different from “the world” around us, that it evokes criticism or even persecution.
Since we are all influenced by the world views and the culture around us, it is not always easy to discern God’s will for all aspects of life. And some decisions are so personal that there is no general guideline to be found in the Bible. Nevertheless, a lot of directives are clear, and others can be deduced from the Scriptures.
Being a Christian means being part of the church
When someone comes to faith, he or she becomes part of the worldwide church. This one church consists of believers from all centuries and from all places. All over the world, groups of Christians meet in local churches. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to do so: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” Church services or small groups are great occasions to pray together, to study the Bible together, and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Christian life is aimed at God’s glory
Living as a Christian is not just about obeying certain regulations or avoiding particular sins. It is about our attitude towards the present world, it is about our relationship with God, it is about our life goal. And it involves all aspects of our lives. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is freed from the power of sin and is enabled to live a completely new life that Jesus has acquired for him. He regards the world with “new eyes”. He lives for Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
One day, Christians will be holy and blameless
As long as we live on this earth, the new life has not yet reached its fullness. We are still struggling with sinful desires and the destructive effects of sin in our lives. We need God’s forgiveness and renewing power every single day. But one day, at the end of time, Jesus Christ will return to make an end to sin and imperfection. He will then create a new heaven and a new earth for his children, and redeem both their bodies and their souls. From then on, they will be holy and blameless before him and spend eternity in God’s glorious presence — which has been his purpose from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
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