Thursday, August 14, 2014

Authentic Christianity Continued

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

This week we are focusing on living an authentic Christian life.  What IS an authentic Christian?  Today we have an excerpt from the book Authentic Christianity by Ray Stedman.  His book focuses on living beyond the “rules, rituals, and doctrines” of a religion and living out a genuinely intimate connection with Christ.  Enjoy the following excerpt and focus on your own relationship with Christ.

“The Christian life begins with an encounter with Jesus Christ. It cannot be otherwise. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). Many influences and experiences may lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ. Those influences and experiences may even be intensely religious and theologically profound--but until a person responds to the promise of Christ and receives Him as Lord, there can be no spiritual reality, no eternal life.  

A person's encounter with Jesus Christ--what we call "conversion"--may take place in any one of a number of ways. However the act of conversion occurs, it absolutely must take place before there can be any hope of living the authentic Christian life.

No other way
The experience of encountering Christ rests upon the written promises of the Bible. At least some knowledge of the truth of God's Word is essential to believing in or receiving Christ. It is the biblical account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus which gives us reason to believe that Jesus is alive and available to us; that Jesus can, by the Holy Spirit, actually come to live within a human being; and that He can so entwine His own life with our own so that, from then out, we and Christ can be essentially regarded as one. The biblical account of the life and character of Jesus gives us the basis for believing that Jesus is truly the Savior He claimed to be and that He has the power to set us free from bondage to sin.

Signs of life
Conversion is just the beginning. Certain manifestations of the new life do quickly appear. Perhaps the easiest to recognize is a sense of peace and well-being, especially in terms of one's feelings about God. And that sense of peace is made more intense and lasting as we come to realize the full implication of having our sin forgiven through our relationship with Christ. This release from guilt and shame is a large part of the peace Christian’s experience. One of the joys of a new Christian is a new and exciting sense of belonging to a family. As members of that family, we have many brothers and sisters to relate to and enjoy, while having continual access to our heavenly Father through prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit. For many, the most joyful aspect of this new life is release from the fear of death and what lies beyond. To have the certain hope of heaven rather than the fear of hell is a relief beyond our ability to express.

The phony and the genuine - The Great Imitation
Many people think that the mark of an authentic Christian is doctrinal purity; if a person's beliefs are biblical and doctrinally orthodox, then he is a Christian. People who equate orthodoxy with authenticity find it hard to even consider the possibility that, despite the correctness of all their doctrinal positions, they may have missed the deepest reality of the authentic Christian life. But we must never forget that true Christianity is more than teaching--it is a way of life. In fact, it is life itself. "He who has the Son has life," remember? When we talk about life, we are talking about something that is far more than mere morality, far more than doctrinal accuracy. Life is a positive quality, not negative--a description of what we fundamentally are, not what we are not. The eternal life that Jesus brings to us is radical, not superficial. It is humble, not self-promoting. It is compassionate, not indifferent. It is courageous, not timid or retiring. It is a far cry indeed from the mild compatibility, agreeability, and affability that passes for Christianity in thousands of churches across the land. In fact, the Great Imitation is so widely accepted as genuine Christianity that the real thing is often regarded as a threat or a heresy whenever it appears.”

How is your connection with Christ?  Are you deceived into thinking that you are being an authentic Christian because you are in church every time the doors are opened and you teach three classes and volunteer twice a week; because your kids are perfect, you never say an unkind thing about anyone, or never ever have a bad attitude?  These are not expectations placed on you by Christ.  He wants us to strive to be like Him but He knows it’s impossible because we are human.  He wants our genuine honesty and vulnerability.  He wants us to run to Him and dump our failures along with our tears in His lap and receive His grace and comfort. He wants our real, authentic love in exchange for His real, authentic love, grace and mercy. 

Scripture to Claim:
"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Devotional Archive