Summary: Christianity is more than going to church or even declaring yourself to be one. Christianity is not about lip service, Christianity is about life service.
Begin with brief video illustration with Brittany. In this video, Brittany talks about what she wants to be and expects to become that by going to the right places or by saying the right things. Her last statement says, “At least I know I can go to church and become a Christian”, with the implication that church attendance is enough. After the video, Brittany will stand in service and declare with attitude, “Well, I am at church, but that hasn’t made me a Christian. So, tell me, Pastor, what is a Christian?”
Just because you say you are a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian.
Just because you go to church doesn’t automatically make you a Christian.
Just because you are born into a Christian family or in a Christian country doesn’t make you a Christian.
“Christian” = a person who is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.
*The word “Christian” first appears in the Bible in Acts 11:26, when the disciples were called Christians in while in Antioch.
*The Biblical translation of the word is one who follows Christ or a follower of Christ. This is often traced out and defined as one who is like Christ.
*The suffix “IAN” is added to form an adjective. When “ian” is added to “Christ” it creates a word which in essence becomes the adjective form of Christ.
*To say Christian should therefore be no different than to say Christ.
*Christianity is active. Christianity is now. I can tell you the date I became a Christian, but if I still must live the life of a Christian now.
1. A Christian is someone who is actively living out the Word of God.
a. This must be personal and not based on what others tell you.
b. You have to know, believe and apply God’s Word to your own life for yourself.
c. God isn’t impressed by ear or lip service. He is looking for life service.
d. I am not saying that we earn our Christianity by our actions, so don’t read that into this. We aren’t Christians by what we do. We do what we do because we are Christians.
e. It is said of Jesus that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:12). Jesus lived out the Word of God to the fullest.
2. A Christian is someone who is putting others ahead of themselves.
a. Much of the church has a bad habit of becoming totally self-absorbed.
b. The selfish brand of church life that is often tried to be passed off as Christianity is nowhere near what Jesus lived and taught.
c. Putting the needs of others ahead of your own may just open the door for God to help you in your own needs.
d. When we are only focused on our own needs, we take it upon ourselves to meet those needs in our own ability and strength.
e. In the days in which James wrote this epistle, the widows and orphans were thought to be the worst off in society. They had no one to assist them in any way.
f. Jesus’ own words in Mark 10:45 declared that He did not come to be served but to serve and offer Himself as a ransom for many. He then backed up that statement on the cross.
3. Not being stained by the world.
a. We are called by God to come out from among the world and be separate (1 Cor 6:19-20).
b. We can’t just hide ourselves away and refuse to be a part of the world in which we live. However, we can chose whether or not we allow the world to influence us or if we are influencing the world for Christ.
c. In our lives we either bow to God’s Spirit or to our own flesh to please and satisfy one or the other, BUT NEVER BOTH.
d. Whatever we give ourselves to in our lives reveals who or what is god in our lives.
e. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was in all ways tempted just as we are, but He was without sin – unstained by the world.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, dreamed he stood at the door to hell. He knocked and asked who were within.
“Any Roman Catholics here?” he asked.
“Yes,” came the answer.
In turn he asked if there were any Church of Englanders, any Lutherans, or any Calvinists in hell. Each time the answer was yes. Finally he timidly asked if there were any who followed John Wesley in hell and again the answer was yes.
Dismayed by the last answer he turned and walked upward and in his dream came to the gates of heaven.
He asked the same questions – any Roman Catholics, Church of Englanders, Lutherans, Calvinists, and followers of Wesley. For each group here, the answer was no.
Puzzled and dismayed he asked the doorkeeper at the entrance to heaven, “Then who is here?”
“Only Christians,” the angel said. “We know nothing of the names you have mentioned.”