Summary: Too many church goers think they are Christians because they do not know the real definition of the word "Christian".
We were created by God to worship Him. That is our purpose. God’s plan is for us to worship Him. But, there is something else we are supposed to do, too. We are supposed to be like Christ.
If you would take a random poll and ask people in America what they think being a Christian means, most of them would say something like, “To live good lives and go to church.” In reality, that has nothing to do with being a Christian. Sure, living a good life and going to church are wonderful things, and we are supposed to do these things, but being a Christian is something entirely different.
The word “Christian” actually means “being like Christ”. In other words, we could live good lives and go to church every day, but still not be a Christian. To be a Christian means to be as much like Christ in your everyday life as you can possibly be.
It means putting Jesus higher in your life than anything or anybody else. When you do this, you will surely get negative feedback from your family and friends, but who are you going to succumb to? Who is going to take care of you for eternity? Who has the greatest love for you, and who demands the most love from you? The answer is Jesus Christ.
To be a Christian means to emulate Jesus Christ by the very way you live your life. If everyone in your life doesn’t know that Jesus is number one in your heart, you haven’t done a very good job of being a Christian, have you?
In the 9th chapter of ACTS, we read about Saul’s conversion. The whole point to this chapter is letting us know that we must change from our old ways and become like Jesus.
1. JESUS CALLS US TO FOLLOW HIM
In MATTHEW 4, we see where Jesus told some fishermen to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men. When Jesus is talking about following Him, He isn’t talking about just tagging along. Jesus is asking for their lives to follow His life.
When we play follow the leader, we don’t just go in the same general direction of the leader; we try to follow the leader’s movements as closely as possible, don’t we? In effect, Jesus was telling us to follow Him in the same way.
I think there are three levels of Christians.
The first level is the believer. He is the one who has accepted the message of Jesus and is still learning how to live the basics of the Christian faith.
The second level is the follower. He is the one who is a little more focused than the believer, and is striving to have a deeper relationship with Jesus.
The third level is the disciple. He is the one who has pursued Christ in his life and has worked at worshiping and praising God in all he does. This person has truly surrendered to the Lord to the point where he will do whatever, and go wherever, the Lord leads him. His focus is on nothing less than the gates of Heaven.
2. JESUS CALLS US TO LOOK LIKE HIM
Not only does Jesus call us to follow Him, He actually wants us to look like Him. He isn’t talking physically, but spiritually.
In MATTHEW 22:36-38, we read,
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Jesus loves His Father, and He loves His neighbor. Jesus wants us to love God the Father and our neighbors with the same type of love. And our job is to be a true and proper reflection of Jesus Christ in our lives, but are we doing that? Do we too often find that we have short tempers, lose patience, or just have an anger problem with those around us?
Our job is to let Jesus transform our hearts to be more like His. As Christians, we have a choice to either react to circumstances the way our carnal nature wants us to, or to act like Jesus would.
Here is a test for you. In your mind’s eye, go back and think about the last ten days. Have you lost your temper with someone? Have you gotten frustrated at someone and just wished they would stop bugging you? Have you wished that people could understand that your way is the best way?
Now, ask yourself this question: "When I reacted that way, was I properly reflecting the love of Jesus in my actions or thoughts? Or not?"