OPIN­ION

Chris­tian ac­tion

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

There is a fun­da­men­tal er­ror both in our so­ci­ety and in the church at large con­cern­ing the na­ture of Chris­tian­ity.

Ask the av­er­age per­son what it means to be a Chris­tian, and you will get an­swers that gen­er­ally cen­ter around var­i­ous ac­tions ( or lack thereof).

De­spite what most seem to think and even some teach, Chris­tian­ity is not about the Golden Rule, or fol­low­ing the Ser­mon on the Mount, or for that mat­ter any other of the teach­ings of Je­sus. Herein lies the fun­da­men­tal er­ror most have when it comes to Chris­tian­ity: they as­sume it cen­ters around what Je­sus said rather than what Je­sus did. Let me ex­plain.

Many to­day be­lieve that they are Chris­tians be­cause they hap­pen to sub­scribe to some of the teach­ings of Je­sus. Sadly the vast ma­jor­ity of those be­lieve that all it takes is to sub­scribe to those par­tic­u­lar teach­ings they hap­pen to like while at the same time dis­count­ing the vol­umes of teach­ings with which they dis­agree.

Thou­sands of peo­ple be­lieve that they are Chris­tians be­cause they sub­scribe to the Golden Rule, yet th­ese same peo­ple deny the es­sen­tial teach­ings of Je­sus. The es­sen­tial teach­ings of Je­sus cen­ter upon who he claimed to be ( God in the flesh) and what he did, namely, he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave to pur­chase for us a place in heaven which he of­fers to us as a free gift.

The very thing that de­fines gen­uine Chris­tian­ity is the very thing that thou­sands who claim to be Chris­tians deny. Deny the de­ity of Christ and you have lost the en­tirety of the Chris­tian mes­sage. You may be re­li­gious and you may both sub­scribe and fol­low some of the prin­ci­ples Je­sus taught, but you are not a Chris­tian.

Je­sus did not come to make bad peo­ple good, he came so dead peo­ple could live. I like the way the noted Bri­tish Jour­nal­ist of the last cen­tury, Mal­colm Mug­geridge put it: “As Man alone, Je­sus could not have saved us, as God alone, he would not; In­car­nate, he could and did.”

How does the Bi­ble de­fine a Chris­tian? Per­haps no pas­sage is clearer than John 1: 12- 13, “ But as many as re­ceived Him, to them He gave the right to be­come chil­dren of God, even to those who be­lieve in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” ( NASB).

Th­ese two verses give us the bib­li­cal def­i­ni­tion of a Chris­tian. Verse 13 elim­i­nates the three most com­mon mis­con­cep­tions peo­ple have ( telling us what a Chris­tian is not) and ends in the def­i­ni­tion of a true be­liever. Verse 12 gives us the means to be­com­ing a Chris­tian.

“ Who were born, not of blood.” This first phrase in­forms us that be­ing a Chris­tian isn’t the re­sult of one’s parent­age or her­itage. Many be­lieve they are Chris­tians be­cause they have grown up in a Chris­tian home.

I of­ten tell my peo­ple, “ God doesn’t have any grand­chil­dren.” You are not a Chris­tian by virtue of the fam­ily or the coun­try you’ve been born in.

“ Nor of the will of flesh.” This phrase be­lies the con­cept that a Chris­tian is a per­son who does cer­tain things — good works. No one can work his way into God’s fa­vor, no mat­ter how well he may think he is fol­low­ing the Golden rule ( See also Eph­e­sians 2: 8- 9).

“ Nor of the will of man.” This phrase de­stroys the con­cept that some hu­man in­di­vid­ual has the power or author­ity to de­clare some­one else a “ be­liever.” Be­com­ing a Chris­tian is an in­di­vid­ual de­ci­sion not a group ac­tiv­ity.

The true Chris­tian is the per­son who has been “ born of God” through faith in the Lord Je­sus Christ ( verse 12). We’ll ex­plore this con­cept fur­ther next week.

John Pear­rell

Colum­nist

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