November 9, 2011

Beyond mere fire insurance

There is more to being a Christian than praying the sinner’s prayer. There is more to being a Christian than receiving Christ as Savior. If it were that easy, perhaps everyone would become a Christian.

When I say more, I’m not referring to adding good deeds to our salvation. Some cults believe that Jesus died to give them the right or privilege to earn their eternal reward. That is not biblical. We cannot merit salvation no matter how good we are because the standard is perfect — who can claim that?

However, by receiving Jesus Christ, we receive His perfections. He is our claim to eternal life. There is no more to do or more than we can do; Jesus did it for us. So what do I mean by more? 

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, (Colossians 2:6)
Anyone who has Christ in their life cannot stay the same as they were. The power of His life is far greater than even our most stubborn resistance. If we asked Him to save us from sin, He will indeed do that, even though in our flesh we love sin. The ‘more’ is that when a person becomes a Christian, they begin a new life. This is not an option. If Christ lives in me, then all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The devotional yesterday used “receiving” as the main verb. To become a Christian, a person must receive or accept Jesus Christ, but this verse has another verb. Those who receive Him also “walk” in Him, and because Jesus is in their life, a dramatic change happens to their walk. They begin going the same direction as Jesus goes, not always and sometimes without realizing it, but nevertheless, their walk is different from before.

What I love about this verse are the words between the verbs. As I received Christ, I am to walk in Him the same way, so how then did I receive Him? How does that event define the way I walk?

First, He initiated the entire thing. He gave me a searching heart (the Bible says that if He didn’t do that, no one would seek Him). Then He just came to me, walked into my heart. I had a sense of need, but made no invitation. He did the inviting, yet His timing was perfect. I could not have said no. Also Involved in this receiving was confession of sin, repentance and turning to Him for mercy and grace to dig me out of the hole that I was in, and to make something of my life.

This is the ‘more’ of being a Christian. It begins with an empty, blind, deaf, dead sinner receiving Jesus, knowing that without Him I will ruin everything and perish also. It continues the same way — recognizing my entire helplessness and need, and knowing that in my own strength I will ruin everything. Being a Christian is about walking in Him, not in my own ways and my ideas. It is relinquishing anything that has to do with me, my wants, ambitions and even my abilities. Apart from Jesus, I am nothing and can do nothing of eternal value.

The requirement of becoming a Christian by simply asking for eternal life can hardly form a barricade for people who do not want anything to do with Christianity. Receiving the most wonderful person that ever existed into their lives seems an unlikely reason for refusing Christianity also. It seems to me that it isn’t ‘receiving’ that gives most people pause, but the ‘walking in Him’ that causes sinners to balk. It is as Jesus said in one of His parables, “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’” (Luke 19:14) For many, Savior is okay, but Lord is not.

Father, even with the lovely Jesus in my heart, submission to You is often a challenge. Yet when I received Jesus, Your goal immediately began. You are teaching me to walk in Him. You are at work using all things to transform me into His image. Being a Christian isn’t mere fire insurance. It is being a new creation with the life of Christ alive in me. It is You changing who I am and changing the way I walk in this life — on my way to walking with You forever.

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