What are the Essentials of Christian Faithfulness?
Have ever wondered, “What does it really mean to be a Christian? Like, day-to-day? What does that look like?”
I often fear that the Church (and Evangelicalism, in particular) has done well with getting people into the doors of attractive buildings for pre-planned programs and events, but not so good with teaching the Christian life Sunday-Saturday; the Christian life of private, ongoing faithfulness when no one is watching; the actual transformed way of living that the New Testament so clearly teaches.
What was the Early Church like?
Consider Luke’s descriptions of the behaviors and practices of the early Church found in Acts 2:42-47…
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
What do we see here?
-Devotion to a new way of life. The gospel power had changed these people so much that their way of living in and understanding the world had changed.
These first Christians were devoted to authoritative Bible teaching, true Christian fellowship, observing Communion, and communal prayer.
And Devotion is an interesting word. It means a steadfast and single-minded faithfulness to a certain course of action. It means this first Church was basically married to this newly formed community and its way of living in the world. They said, “I do until death.”
They made the commitment. There was no going back…
-This new way of living emerged out of the transformational power of the Gospel: The people were together regularly— “day by day, attending the temple together” — studying and hearing the Bible taught; caring for one another, and meeting needs; eating meals, and praising God. Which means that they were saying no to other things so they could say yes to being together as the people of God.
And guess what!? God was saving people left and right!
Nowhere does it mention that this church had pre-planned evangelism programs, or that they were out canvassing Jerusalem door-to-door (not that I am condemning such things). Luke’s point is not that programs won the day, but that the essential transformational power of Jesus in the lives of His people won the day.
Jesus changed these people so radically that their new way of living was exerting power in their community, among their neighbors.
-I think too often we try to condense and confine evangelism and mission into prepackaged events and strategies, failing to see that the most evangelistic tool God has given us is the power of the gospel in our transformed lives.
The Gospel is power. Paul says that in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
So, here’s the reality: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, when it really takes hold in our lives, it makes us new people who live a new life in a new way.
Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus gives us new life, causing us to be born again (John 3) from our death in sin (Eph. 2:1-3) to a new and living hope in Him (1 Pt. 1:3).
He grants us not only new life, but new minds and new desires (Rm. 12:1-2), and a new disposition with which to know Him and follow Him (Eph. 4:22-24).
In short, He transforms our lives.
The Christian is a person who is dead to sin and alive to God (Rm. 6)…A person alive to the Almighty, Creator God Who rules over all, and through all, and in all.
-So, a major takeaway from this should be that the Christian life is incredibly powerful and comprehensive — it’s not something that can be confined to a program, or even a weekly Church gathering.
Rather than Sunday morning worship being the majority of your Christianity for the week, it should be the culmination of what you have been doing all week long. And, instead of it being all your worship for the week ahead, Sunday mornings should be the first act of what you will be doing everyday for the week to come.
So, what are the essentials of Christian faithfulness?
-What does day-to-day Christianity look like? What are real Christians doing Monday-Friday?
Trusting Jesus, and following Him in their lives.
Reading, listening, memorizing, knowing, and applying the Bible.
Prayer. Constant prayer.
Repenting of Sin.
Discipleship and spiritual growth.
Meeting/communicating with other believers for fellowship, encouragement, confession of sin, guidance and wisdom, and prayer.
In our day and age, communication is easier than ever.
Regular corporate worship with your church.
Regular fellowship with Christians where the Bible is opened, prayers are offered, friendships are deepend, and burdens are borne.
Sharing your faith with the lost world.
Living the Essentials
-The Christian life is not complicated. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He doesn’t require a special knowledge of a hidden way of life that we can’t find.
He makes the call easy to understand and fairly plain.
But, just because it's plain doesn’t mean it's easy.
-The Christian life can be difficult because it often involves unlearning and rejecting all the ways of the world as we trust Jesus to build a new way of living into us.
That’s why the Rich Young Man walked away from Jesus with sorrow. It wasn’t because he didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. He understood quite clearly. And that’s why he walked away…because he understood that following Jesus meant a life different from what he wanted.
Who's Really in Charge?
We're often comfortable with once-a-week church and programmatic ministry because we can fit those things into our busy schedules, and we basically remain in control of them.
“We’ll go if we want to, or if we can.We’ll go if something else doesn’t come up.” — This tends to be the measure of faithfulness among modern Evangelical Christians…especially the younger generations.
But, when listening to the New Testament, we hear a different description emerging. We hear a holistic way of living that cannot be confined to a schedule. A way of living that not only sets precedent, but takes precedent.
Jesus tells us He wants to make us new, not free up our schedule.
As the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must get better at teaching our people the essentials: How to know and love the Lord everyday, and in every way throughout our lives.
Our Churches and ministry programs should be designed to get the Bible into our peoples’ lives, not scratch a religious itch.