Author: Rachel Kidd
Growing up in the renaissance of Western cultural evangelicalism, I remember nearly everyone I knew had all the trappings of Jesus-freak culture. We wore our WWJD bracelets with pride, a physical reminder to ourselves and to everyone else, that we were Christians and proud to be so.
But, I began to realize that wearing a bracelet does not a good Christian make. Wearing a WWJD bracelet doesn’t inherently make me good or Christ-like. In fact, the bracelet alone doesn’t even make me a Christian. Neither does a Jesus-fish on the back of your car, a Third Day t-shirt, a Bible verse in your Instagram bio, or even regular church attendance on Sundays.
Christianity was born long before American material culture. It began with the birth of a baby in a manger in the modern heart of the Palestinian West Bank, in Bethlehem.
Jesus was a poor carpenter, a friend to fisherman and prostitutes, an advocate for the silenced, and healer of the sick. If Jesus had been born today, would He be nestled in luxury in the U.S.? I’d argue that He wouldn’t. In fact He would likely be born in the middle of the conflict in the Middle East, gunfire and bomb explosions; modern warfare marking His entrance into the world. Forced from their homes, Jesus and His parents might be nation-less refugees searching for safety in neighboring countries, just like they fled to Egypt in the wake of Herod’s violent anger.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
The bible tells us that Jesus is the model for a perfect, godly life. We are called to pursue a Christ-like life as His disciples, a life-long pursuit of holiness that can only be found through a relationship with Jesus.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
–1 Peter 2:21-23
Because Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself on the cross, to be followers of Christ we are asked to follow in His steps. To be a Christian means to live like Jesus.
What does it mean to live like Jesus?
In 1 Peter, we see that living like Jesus means rebuking sin and being truthful. While it is impossible to live a perfect, sinless life, we should be striving for that ideal. As we grow closer to Christ through scripture reading, Christian community, and prayer, we find ourselves becoming more like Him.
Jesus is the Word
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Timothy tells us that scripture is the key to training us to become good Christians. All scripture is God-breathed, meaning that it comes from the source of all truth. It is a tool to teach us, to guide us in the way of righteousness, and equip us for what God has called us to.
Jesus is Life
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
In order to use the scriptures as God intended, as a living sword designed to penetrate into our hearts and judge our darkest thoughts, we must be good students of the Word. Understanding scripture and meditating in the word of God
Jesus Relied on the Spirit
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.
In Acts, Paul emphasizes the importance of the Holy Spirit. He says that the power of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is given to those who obey God. When we live in obedience to the scripture, we are sanctified and filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the New Testament, we see evidence of this gift in early believers through their ability to speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift, enabling the believer to speak in languages that they were unable to before. These can be earthly or heavenly languages, a sign to everyone who can hear that you are filled with the spirit.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
However, speaking in tongues is not the sole evidence of being spirit-filled. This verse tells us that this ability means nothing without love. This incredible miraculous gift is worth nothing more than mere noise without love.
Jesus Decreased so that the Father Might Increase
He must increase; I must decrease.
In order to grow in our faith and become more like Jesus, John tells us that we must decrease in order for God to increase in us. To be more like Christ, we are called to become less sinful, less selfish and proud, and to be more loving, gentle and faithful.
To become less is not to be less of who you are, like your personality or passions, rather it means to work actively against your sinful nature and pursue holiness. As we are sanctified, or becoming more like Jesus, we are allowing Him to increase in our lives. We can see and experience the goodness God has to offer as our thoughts and desires align with His.
Sanctification requires faith and daily diligence, spending time in the Word and in prayer. It means having a supportive community of fellow believers, like iron sharpens iron, who will hold you accountable to your faith. It means living in love, forgiving those that hurt you, giving freely, and pursuing peace.