UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN LIVING

We may wonder why one should talk about Christian living, after all, we have been traditionally a Christian - born in a Christian family, raised by Christian parents, and belong to a church tradition. I believe that is precisely the reason for us to discuss our understanding of Christian living. I believe Christian formation is incomplete without systematically reflecting on Christian living. Since we are from diverse backgrounds it's worth reflecting on it. This exercise will give us confidence, courage, and assurance to continue to live faithfully as a Christian in a challenging world.

The Term Christian

The term Christian is used quite freely and loosely these days. In the light of the Biblical Teaching, Christians are the people who belong to Christ and not because they have been brought up in families or belong to certain church traditions. The Bible most commonly refers to Christians as those who believe in Christ and follow His teachings. The word Christian appears in Acts 11:26 “and the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” The followers of Jesus were called Christians, which comes from Christ, and signifies anointed ones. Before they were called Christians in Antioch, they addressed themselves as disciples, brethren, believers and the church and others called followers of Christ as Nazarenes and Galileans. The term “Christian” gradually became popular that both Jews and Gentiles began to forget their differences in Christ. Today everyone who goes to a church or born in a Christian family is called Christians, which I feel is misleading. In a strict sense, a Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ and who chooses to follow Jesus. There is a general understanding that a true Christian is the one who has a church membership and fulfills all the spiritual rituals of the Christian religion. However, a true Christian is the one who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ and strives to follow Him in every area of his life. Every true Christian should have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and should have fellowship with other believers, who are part of the body of Christ. And I believe that this relationship is lived out by way of prayer, the study of God’s Word, fellowship with God’s people, and service to others in Jesus’ name.

Meaning of Christian Living

What does it mean by Christian living? We do not mean a ritualistic life or following certain religious practices. Christian living simply means a life that is rooted and lived on the principles and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ found in the Bible. Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The true meaning of Christian living is all about reflecting the character of Jesus Christ. One can be from different cultural, professional, and linguistic backgrounds but Jesus is relevant to all people and in culture and in all time. Like the moon reflects the light from the sun, we reflect the character of the Son of God. Just like the moon doesn’t have the power to reflect by itself, Christians do not have any light apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said I am the light of the world. Those who are in Christ will have the light of Christ. If we claim that we are Christians we need to reflect the characters of Jesus. Imitating Christ remains the top priority of every Christian. Apostle Paul urged his readers to imitate him as he imitates Jesus Christ and Peter insists to walk in His steps. In His earthly life, Jesus always pleased God and did God’s will. He was moved with compassion when he saw the sick and the needy. He was tortured and persecuted but he had forgiven them all. Every Christian should strive to have the mind of Christ.

Concept of Life in the Bible

The Bible beautifully explains about life. There is no other book that explains the origin and the destiny of human life clearly than the Holy Bible. The creation account found in the book of Genesis and the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation very clearly explains God’s intention of saving humanity from eternal separation from God. According to Gen. 2:7, Yahweh formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed divine breath into the lifeless body so that he became a living being. The whole physical, emotional, and intellectual life of man stems from God. If he withdraws his breath of life, then man crumbles to dust. The trials and tribulations common to man - toil and failure, shame and fear, the pains of childbirth - are said to have been caused by man's primeval fall into sin (Gen. 3).

  • God is the living God (Jer. 10:10), who alone creates human existence on earth and brings life and death to individuals (Gen. 2:7; 1 Sam. 2:6), and death is understood as the end of life.

  • In Deuteronomy and wisdom literature, life is associated with keeping the commandments of God (Deut. 30:15-20; Prov. 4:4).

  • The obedient are promised blessing, prosperity, and life, while the disobedient can expect nothing but a curse, adversity, and death (Deut. 30: 15, 19).

In the NT, life generally means life after death, eternal life, but otherwise, the NT continues OT understandings of the term. True life depends on the word of God (Matt. 4:4, quoting Deut. 8: 3), while to live away from God is described as being dead (Lk. 15: 24, 32).

  • Jesus says, “I have come to give life and life in full” (John 10:10)

  • The apostle sees Christ as the very embodiment of God's living power, conquering death, and raising the dead (2 Cor. 13:4).

  • Paul's view of life is deeply affected by the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 15: 4), which, being an accomplished fact, has proved the power of divine life over death (Rom. 14:9).

  • Jesus calls people from unbelief to belief and in him a change from death to life (John 5:24).

Old and New Life

Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians said in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things become new”. A life without Christ is old life but with Christ a new life. The state of life without Christ is well described in the book of Ephesians, and the book of Romans.

Old Life

Spiritually dead

Following Passions of flesh

Children of wrath

Enemies of God

Sinners

New Life

Spiritually alive

Pleasing God

Children of blessing

Friends of God

Children of God

God looks at His children lovingly. He has given us the authority to call Him as Abba –father. So, every Christian should live in the newness of that life and enjoy God-given blessings. Hope is absent from people who are not in Christ because there is nothing to hope apart from Christ. Scripture speaks of hope as an anchor (Heb. 6:19) because it looks forward to the sure promises of our God. Hope is not merely a desire for something that may come to pass, but it’s an assurance of things that we have not seen yet. Christian hope is based on God’s character. All the blessings and glory the true and wise God has promised to His people will most certainly come to pass. We live a temporary life here on earth as strangers and pilgrims, but when Christ comes for the second time, we will be with him eternally.

We have briefly discussed the true meaning of Christian living and found that it is everyday life with Jesus. Every one born to this world has a choice to make - to follow Christ or not to follow Him. A life with Christ results in eternal life, which is His promise to all those who follow Him, and a life without Christ goes to eternal separation from God, which is eternal death. Living a life pleasing to Jesus is the true Christian living.