Today, numerous groups call themselves followers of Christ that aren’t his followers at all. It’s a wonder to me when I meet someone who knows the message he brought. It’s a wonder to me when I find someone who has actually read the Bible. Still, there are many people following Jesus.
It remains impossible to find someone besides Jesus who is without sin by God’s standard. At some level, everyone fails. Hypocrisy is the usual charge. Personally, I only find it hypocritical if a person is self-righteous or deliberately unrepentant concerning things they know to be wrong. Followers of Christ must rely on his righteousness and continually seek to live in his love. That’s a tall order; nonetheless, some do, and when they do, great things happen. Here are great things I know real Christians do.
1. Give time and resources to serve others’ physical needs.
Where Christ is at work, you will find his people helping others… if you look. In New Orleans, churches have worked tirelessly to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. In Mexico, thousands come down from the U.S. and help build houses, aid the poor, and assist orphanages. All over the world missionaries are helping those in need, whether or not the people they serve decide to follow Christ. Where I live, Christians help feed the homeless, do yard and/or repair work for people in need, and give away countless items to help people.
2. Provide emotional support to the hurting.
Counseling and loving concern flow out from Christ to many, many hurting people through the compassion of his people.
3. Live and work with integrity.
Christ does not lie, cheat, or steal. When his followers act in his spirit, they are dependable and trustworthy, albeit human.
4. Respect life.
I don’t have a figure on this, but I have seen a high number of adoptions among Christ’s followers. Compassion for human life holds the heart of believers.
5. Pray, pray, and pray some more.
Christ brought mercy wherever he went. It is God’s power that changes lives. Knowing that, followers of Christ continually pray to God for the welfare of others. This intercession is an important facility to God. The decay of sin wracks this world, but God’s grace rains down on it from Heaven through answers to the prayers of his people.
6. Bring beauty through honor to God.
Christmas is a prime example. Christmas without Christ is like dry popcorn. It’s lacking something important. He is the wonder of Christmas. Many holidays come and go with many traditions, but the joy of the world is him. This beauty is expressed in songs of praise, gifts, and rich blessings of hope.
7. Give second chances.
Christ bridges the gap between man and God. He cancels the charges against us. He makes all things new. I know ex-cons, ex-prostitutes, ex-greedy double-dealers, ex-just-about-anything-you-can-name people who found hope, peace, and new life in God through God’s people and a church home.
8. They love the unloved.
The Statue of Liberty has this inscription:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
More often than not, in my experience, it is Christ’s followers who bring love like this to the desolate.
9. Respect proper authority.
There is a time to stand against tyranny, but simple rejection of authority for personal gain is not of Christ.
“The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest [Jesus]… But they were afraid of the people.
Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: ‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
He said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’
They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.”
10. They don’t give up.
Believers fall. That’s not even uncommon. The difference between those born of Christ and those who are not is that the ones whose hearts he lives in don’t stay fallen. The Spirit compels those who belong to him to come back to him. As King David once wrote:
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7
Christ’s followers get back up after a fall and continue on in a corrected course. Not doing so is unbearable for them.
There is one who delights in their fall, but his power is not great enough to keep them fallen.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39