How Should (and Shouldn’t) a Christian Live?

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  – 1st John 2:4 NIV

 Today I read an article about a well-known Christian “influencer” who made his living crafting pithy little sayings to encourage other Christians. Well— it turns out that a bunch of those sayings were not really his, they were “borrowed” from other speakers, authors and historical figures. 

 Yikes. 

 The article made me feel kind of navel gazey and got me thinking about a lot of things. Like grey areas, right and wrong and how easy it is for “influencing the world for Jesus” to morph into self-promotion and how hard it is to see our own junky motives when that happens. As I mused these uniquely twenty-first century issues it occurred to me that there is very little agreement about what a Christian should “look like” in our day and age.

 The standard definition of a Christian is someone who has dedicated their life to following the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. Figuring out what the Christian life should look like in our world is not as cut-and-dried as it once was. Even concepts as basic as love can be difficult to navigate in this world. What Christianity should look like is something we need to figure out fast because if we don’t we will ultimately fail at the most basic assignment Christians have been tasked with (Matthew 28:19-20).  I came up with a couple of should’s and shouldn’ts that if followed will empower us to live the Christian life successfully in our grey area world.

Christians should-

 Judge sometimes-

 The notion that Christians should never judge is a lie straight out of the pit of hell. It is true Christians should never judge whether or not another person is worthy of forgiveness or heaven, that’s always God’s call to make (Matthew 7:2, Luke 6:37). That being said, Christians are told all the time in Scripture to make judgments about all kinds of moral issues (Luke 12:57, John 4:18-20, 1st Corinthians 5:12). Anytime we stop judging the actions of ourselves and others we quickly devolve to an ugly reality where everyone does “what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). When that happens, moral chaos becomes the new normal and we forfeit our power to influence others in a healthy way (Matthew 5:13).

Love People-

 Okay, so, this is a bit of a given. Even demons and pagans understand love is the defining mark of a Christ-follower (John 13:34-35). However, some Christians do not seem to understand the basic fact that Christian love is more complex than just being nice and accepting. Christian love protects, encourages and believes the best in others but it also cautions, corrects and even rebukes (1st Corinthians 4:14-20, 1st Thessalonians 5:14).  Jesus loved the Pharisees enough to die for them but that didn’t stop Him from warning them of the consequences they would encounter if they continued to live in opposition to the will of God (Luke 11:11-53).  If we really want to love like Jesus loved we have to embrace every aspect of Christian love—not just the parts and pieces that make us comfortable and the world happy. 

Do good-

 Christians are told all the time in Scripture to “do good” (Galatians 6:9, 2nd Thessalonians 3: 13, Titus 1:6, Titus 2:7, 1st Peter 2:12). The specifics of “doing good” are left somewhat up to the discretion of each individual Christian. In the New Testament “doing good” always involved helping people, providing for the less fortunate and avoiding sin. Doing good is not about being “the next big thing” or “a big deal” in the Church. It’s about doing what God called you to do to the best of your ability right where He put you. 

Tell the truth-

 Christians shouldn’t lie. We all get that (or we should). But telling the truth goes above and beyond simply not lying.  It also means we live our lives openly and we fight the human tendency to compartmentalize and hide our sin rather than confess and repent (Matthew 3:8, James 5:16).   

 Obey Jesus-

  Obedience is a mark of an authentic Christian (John 14:23-24). When we obey Jesus we love people, hate sin, tell the truth and honor God. If we would all just do our best to obey Jesus most problems we have in the body of Christ would be a nonissue.

Christians should not-

 Mess with the word of God-

 Contrary to popular opinion not every biblical issue is always black and white, there are some grey areas. It’s reasonable for Christians to debate (among other things) how often to take communion, the role of women in the church (Judges 4-5, Romans 16:1), whether or not Christians should use alcohol and exactly how political a church ought to be.  However, most issues hotly debated today (homosexuality, premarital sex, gender issues, adultery) were settled long ago and should be treated that way.  

 Hate people-

 This one is easier in theory than in practice. (Matthew 10:22).  This is especially true when we are hated, openly mocked and persecuted just for loving Jesus.  Nonetheless, our calling is clear: Jesus wants us to love those who hate us and to do good to people who hate us (Luke 6:27-28). It is simply impossible for anyone to obey this command in their own power. It can only be accomplished through the emboldening and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit (2nd Corinthians 12:8-10)

 Christians who wish to make a difference in this world never shy away from the calling we all have to repent and be constantly transformed into the image of Jesus even if that means being a little less popular and successful by worldly standards.

One thought on “How Should (and Shouldn’t) a Christian Live?

  1. Through it all, we must give God the praise, honor, and glory for every success & mastery of every godly trait in our lives. The minute we take credit we deny God His honor.

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