FIRST THINGS FIRST: What’s the point of being a Christian?
Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world; He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born to Mary, and lived a sinless life in accordance with the commandments of God. Christians are those who turn from their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through repentance. The Christian Church was established on Pentecost, nearly 2,000 years ago when Jesus ascended into heaven following His resurrection from the dead, and the Holy Spirit descended upon His disciples to empower them for their mission in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to all nations.
God loves us
No matter what, God loves us—even when we mess up. And while that might seem like an easy concept to understand, it’s not always so simple to apply. When we’re hurting, angry or confused, it can be difficult to focus on God’s love and care for us in those moments. So how do we remember that no matter what happens in our lives, God loves us? One way is by giving ourselves permission to be sad—not as a way to punish ourselves but as a release that allows us to feel emotions fully and move through them more easily.
God forgives us
Christians believe that when we sin, God forgives us. It may sound strange to non-Christians, but believers feel forgiven by God. This is based on Jesus’ death on the cross, in which he took our sins upon himself. This means that Christians don’t feel enslaved by their past because they are freed from it by Christ’s forgiveness and resurrection—and as such they can look forward with hope to what lies ahead (Hebrews 10:10-14). As Paul wrote, If we died with him [Jesus], we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. That’s a good enough reason for me!
God wants us to love him back
Unlike other faith systems that stress personal growth and action as means to achieve salvation, Christianity is unique in that it places God’s love for us at its center. The cross—and Christ’s resurrection—is God’s self-proclamation that he will never stop loving us. So how should we respond to such unfathomable, unconditional love? The only appropriate response is to make sure we fully comprehend just how much God loves us, and then return that love back to him by following his example.
God will restore his creation
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Romans 7:18-19). Sinful humans can’t live up to God’s standards or accomplish his will by our own power.
Christ can transform you
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) When we surrender our lives to Christ we become new creations in Him. We experience His amazing grace that transforms us into His image. He comes into our hearts by faith and puts His Holy Spirit there to empower us daily. We have everything we need through Christ. He truly loves us and cares about each detail in our lives – every little thing matters to Him! Through faith in Jesus we have access to everything that is good through Him. It is all given freely with no strings attached!
Believe in Jesus to be saved
Saving faith is an action. And it all starts with belief in Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf, which you express by putting your trust in Him for salvation. If you believe that He is God’s Son and died to pay for your sins, then you have expressed faith in Him and have been saved. Belief is important because it’s what separates true Christians from people who are just going through the motions. But saving faith does not stop there—it also means that we must learn more about God and His Word as well as obey Him. Thus, all who truly believe will also grow in their walk with Christ.
Know Jesus personally
So if you want to be a Christian, you first need to know Jesus personally. And while it’s possible to know Jesus without knowing Him, I don’t recommend it. If you want your faith to survive and thrive in hard times, knowing Jesus is crucial. Our relationship with Christ—the personal, intimate knowledge that He is God and we are His children—is what transforms us into true followers of Christ. Without that relationship, Christianity turns into just another set of rules or regulations—an external law written on our hearts by our Creator who knows our every thought and motive (Hebrews 4:12). No wonder Paul said he desired to depart and be with Christ.
Put God First
When was your last quality time with God? One way to put God first in your life is by making Him your priority. If you’re like most people, it’s easy to get distracted by work and family obligations, but as we all know, there’s no substitute for face-to-face time with God. The Psalms are full of lines like: I delight greatly in Your decrees; I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways, (Psalm 119:16). When you take time every day to praise and worship Him through prayer, Bible study and focused reflection, it’ll make all the difference in your spiritual well-being. And when you do that, you’ll find yourself increasingly drawn to His word and increasingly motivated to obey it. So what’s stopping you from putting God first today?
Think like Jesus lived
First, to believe in Jesus is to believe that He is God Incarnate. To live like Jesus lived means to recognize how different His life was from ours; after all, as Hebrews tells us, we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses (4:15). Even more so, we are called to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). Don’t get stuck in old habits or routines. Learn from Christ and never stop learning from Him. The best way we learn about living like Jesus is by reading about Him.
Live like Jesus taught
If you’re looking for some practical advice for putting Christian faith into action, there’s no better place to look than what Jesus said and did. The Bible offers many stories of Jesus talking with and helping people who were in need. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus talks about taking care of those in need as an expression of our devotion to him. These good works have an eternal purpose—if we do them out of love for God, then they can help us earn salvation and eternal life after death. But following Christ is not just about posthumous rewards; it’s also about helping others right now and showing your love for God by expressing it through service to others.
Pray like Jesus prayed
Praying like Jesus prayed will help you draw closer to God. How did he pray? Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Here, we learn that prayer involves calling on God as Father, asking him for our daily needs and praising him. If you have trouble finding time or keeping focused while praying, it may be helpful to read through these verses once or twice a day—or at least whenever you sit down to pray. As your faith grows, try adding more elements from these instructions into your own prayers.