Today I am posting as part of a new series that for now will publish monthly, it is called Sisters in Spirit.
Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives. They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation. The topic this month is: what does it mean to be a Christian today?
I think it is easiest for me to start by explaining what being a Christian today doesn’t mean for me.
It doesn’t mean that because I go to church on Sunday I will go to heaven. Coincidentally it also doesn’t mean because I miss church I will go to hell. Being a Christian doesn’t mean I have to go overseas to share the gospel and “preach the good news,” I can do that right from where I am. It doesn’t mean I can tithe to my church and ignore the homeless or broken people on the corner asking for money; it isn’t even really my money – it’s God’s! Being a Christian today doesn’t mean I see myself as better than others, God reminds me that we are all sinners in the presence of Him. Being a Christian does not insinuate that I am soft spoken or afraid to voice my convictions, on the contrary Christ was very vocal and bold in his messages and rebukes.
I heard about God and Jesus at a very young age, both my parents were raised in Catholic homes. After they divorced, I lived with my mom and younger brother and we did not attend church. I sometimes went with friends but I was not consistently in a church atmosphere. I was 18 when someone shared the Gospel with me; it was basically this: there was nothing I could or could not do that would be good enough to merit me going to heaven. However, because of God’s grace, I could accept Jesus’ perfect works and obedience in place of my own. This is a gift God freely offers to everyone who will accept it, and this would be my conduit to heaven. Not having ever heard it presented that way, I was convicted by this truth. There are no code words or special prayers to say, that is the simplicity of grace and faith. In that moment, I accepted Christ as my atonement and, probably because I am human, I immediately began trying to weed my life of things that I knew were not honoring to God. During my first years as a Christian I struggled most with this, trying to continually earn my place in heaven: good works, serving at church, memorizing facts about God & Jesus. Ultimately it led me to a good amount of knowledge about Christ, but not really much in the way of actually knowing Christ.
It is one thing to know about someone, but to actually know him or her is different – one is educational while the other is relational.
Realizing I had been educated but not related to Christ, my heart was effected and my actions changed. For me, being a Christian in the world today means I have to be counter-culture.
In a society that celebrates and continually enforces individualism, I have to fight against selfishness, against privacy, closed doors and seclusion.
It’s not good to be alone.
We were made for relationships, for encouragement, correction and being deeply connected with other believers. Being a Christian means I open my life up to my brothers and sisters in Christ and together we seek biblical truth and how to apply it to our daily lives. We do this with love and patience but we also do this with courage and boldness. It’s never easy rebuking those you love, but how unloving is it to not rebuke them? We all have the same goal – to become more like Christ, and we need help to proceed on that path. I recently read an article online that made four simple, yet powerful statements that I think are important to reflect on daily, while trying to walk this walk:
We must care more about correcting in truth instead of making rash criticisms.
We must write to promote Jesus and his gospel, not ourselves.
We must be known for who we are FOR, rather than who we are against.
We must not sell truth short for the sake of popularity.
(Excerpt from Nick Bogardus via TheResurgence.com)
Do I fail? Of course! I am still a sinner. Just because my sins have been atoned for and Christ will welcome me to heaven with him doesn’t mean the rest of my existence here on earth will be perfect. In fact, I think that continuing to make mistakes is a good reminder to me that this journey cannot be done without constant surrender to Christ’s perfection. What I can do however, is approach each day with an attitude that is resolved to reach the heart of at least one person – whether that person is a customer I speak with on the phone at work, whether it is my mailman bringing mail to my door, or my husband when he comes home from work.
For me being a Christian is a daily walk.
It is a heart surrendered to the influence of the Holy Spirit and a mind focused on God, not myself. It is practicing what I preach and coming clean when I mess up; I make efforts (some days not as valiantly) to read my Bible daily, to pray for myself and others, to be forgiving, loving and compassionate toward all people, regardless of if I think they deserve it.
This is Christ-likeness.
In short, I seek to know Jesus and make him known, one day at a time, because this is a marathon, not a sprint. I hope my journey will include befriending people, serving others and pointing people to Jesus with my life and my words, and that as a result I will one day be greeted by the Lord saying, “Well done, good and faithful one.”
I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:
Kelli Donley is the liberal, all-loving United Methodist. She is a novelist and a public health advocate. She and her dog Willie Nelson Mandela can often be found on the trails of the foothills in Colorado where they live. She dreams of writing a series of books from the perspective of the women in the Bible. She blogs at: www.africankelli.com
Rebekah is a blogger, amateur photographer, and missions volunteer with Adventures in Missions. A lifetime of being a pastor’s kid, attending church regularly, and a private Christian school education gave her a lot of knowledge about the nuances of theology without a lot of faith. Now she’s trying to figure out how faith and theology applies to her relationships and daily life. You can find her online at www.honeysucklelife.com.
Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife. (She does not play the organ.) She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice. Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler. Sarah blogs at www.beautyschooldropout.net