Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Christian Home

Oakland Church
My daughter tells me she wasn’t raised in a Christian home – and she’s right.

Did her parents consider themselves Christian? Absolutely.  Did we attend church? Some of the time. Were scriptures read? Yes. Studied? No. Was application made to daily lives? No. I could go on, but the best explanation was written in How To Raise A Pagan Kid In A Christian Home. That article struck home. What is a Christian?

A church is a mixture of people of different growth, differing patterns of fruit. Different understandings of how to answer the question, “What is a Christian.” The Bible tells us the word’s origin:

Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26 KJV)

What Barnabas and Paul did, taught people, earned them the name “Christians.” Although it’s only used two other times in the Bible, the word must have spread for King Agrippa to have known when to use it:

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. (Acts 26:28 KJV)

Mostly, though, the New Testament writers used the word “brother” when speaking of like-minded believers in Jesus, as Christ and their savior. John pretty much describes what I expect Christians to be:

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:3-5 KJV)

Jesus’ examples of how to live are many, but His commandments are few. He specifically defined the two foundational commandments for all the law:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)

Later, He gave one more, a step closer than loving one’s neighbor:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34 KJV)

There are many lists in the Bible that define what is sin, what separates us from God. Paul gave us such a list:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

It’s easier to see those things in other people, but acknowledging them in our own lives is more difficult. We also tend to apply different weight to sins – murder much worse than wrath – based on our own sinful nature. We much more easily see another’s hatred, strife or heresy and more likely not love them because of it. We need to tend to our own sinfulness, then we can love the unlovable, as God does.

Though we were not then where we are now, we were trying, with little fruit and a lot of room for growth. Now we know to look for Christ in God’s word, in scripture, with a heart prepared to admit sins and sharing His love. Not simply advocating living a moral life, but being Christian.

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