Saturday, 26 January 2008

Are you a Christian?

I'm not here explaining what a Christian is - the fundamental teachings about the life, death and resurrection of Christ, his saving work and how it becomes ours.

I am, though, going to ask my readers who profess to know and believe those things and to have been saved, whether they live like Christians?

Whether we live like Christians is evidence of whether or not we really are Christians. John said, "He that says 'I know him,' and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:11). What are God's commandments to us? The second one is this one, in Jesus' words: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Mark 12:31).

Actually, that's a very mundane, everyday commandment. In each of the situations below, we all know what we'd like someone to do for us. What it means is this:
  • You have a sandwich in the lounge. Do you put the plate in the kitchen afterwards or leave it lying around for someone else?

  • Someone writes you a letter. Do you write back, or do you put it off indefinitely?

  • Your children do something to irritate you. Do you deal with it patiently and kindly (explaining to them what they're doing wrong if relevant, or "getting over it" if the fault was yours), or do you snap back at them?

  • You are sitting down on a full Tube train. A pregnant lady enters the train. Do you immediately stand up, or do you wait for a bit to see if anyone else is going to do it?

  • You make a cup of tea. Do you offer your wife one too, or can't you be bothered? 

  • At the bottom of some stairs, a young mum is struggling with a buggy which she needs to get to the top. It looks awkward and you're pre-occupied and a bit tired. What are you going to do?

  • You hear a friend is ill. You're schedule is busy, your mind is full of problems, and it seems like quite an effort to pick up the phone and speak a word of encouragement to them. Will you do it?

In all the above situations, it is actually absolutely blindingly obvious what we would appreciate someone else doing for us. Isn't it?

Or in other words, bringing Jesus' commandment into it, it is absolutely blindingly obvious what the commandment "love your neighbour as yourself" requires us to do, if it requires us to do anything at all.

Or, bringing the apostle John's words into it, it is absolutely blindingly obvious who is and who is not a liar when they claim to be a Christian. Isn't it?

If being an advanced Christian means having a solid knowledge of the faith, being a preacher, being known as a respected church member, etcetera, then I'm sure many of us are doing very well. I am. If, however, on the other hand, Christian maturity means such mundane things as putting stuff away after you use it so that the other people in your household don't have to do it for you, or helping your wife with the washing up, then does that make things look differently? By this measure, I have one enormously long way to go. Do you?

"Whether therefore you do the washing up, or make a cup of tea, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31, or thereabouts.

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