The Christian is sometimes held in ridicule by non-believers because he/she purports to be a follower of Christ, yet follows the dictates of his/her own heart. Many Christians practise only those teachings he/she feels comfortable with or what his/her cullture considers acceptable. Many feel that going to Church makes them a Christian without paying heed to the bilblical doctrines, or abiding by the gospel of Jesus. Showing love is for family, not all, and for friends. Forgiveness does not come easily to many, especially when envy, resentment and anger rule the heart. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they practised not what they preached but made life burdensome for the poor. He told the disciples to listen to what they say but do not do what they do; some Christians fall into this category. Isaiah 29:13: The Lord says: “These people come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (NIV)
However, there are many Christians who have accepted the call of Christ to do good and to spread the message of the gospel. One is always impressed to listen to the testimonies of born-again Christians who have had terrible experiences in the past, living most difficult lives and have come to know Jesus as their Saviour. They recount stories of deep distress and depression and hurt but survived to tell how Christ brought them out of darkness into His marvellous light. These have a love for God, become missionaries, start ministries with a view to helping those in need, whether they be abandoned children, those in prison or the homeless.
God set forth the way of life in His beloved Son. He sent Him to show us how to live that life. We make a mockery of Jesus’ teaching when we call ourselves Christian and, like the Israelites of old, ignore what He has taught and show our reluctance to follow Him. We give little or no thanks for the heavenly blessings bestowed on us each day and sometimes we pray only when we want something or we are in dire straits. We are not committed to our worship and our faith and trust in God leave much to be desired. In Luke 6:37 Jesus said, “Forgive and ye shall be forgiven.”, yet so many of us are unwilling to forgive others just as if we are blameless. We behave in a high and mighty manner, judging others as if we have the right to exercise authority over our fellowman. We are even stingy with our prayers for those less fortunate than ourselves as we feel they deserve their lot and our witness for Christ is generally absent. God’s commandment to us is to love Him and our neighbour as ourselves. Christ used the parable of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate to us that our neighbour is any human being other than ourselves. We are commissioned to spread the gospel to every nation, kindred and tongue.
We seem not to know the gospel which was preached by Christ during His ministry on earth. The apostle Paul made it his duty to make the Gospel known to the Gentiles to carry on this message of love to the then known world. Many have taken his words out of context to have him say what he did not mean. He warned Timothy that in the last days “men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.” We are seeing the evidence of this now in our day.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells His audience, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law,or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be finished. Whoever thefefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” How then we are being taught that Paul said the law was done away with when Jesus’ words confirm otherwise (Matt. 5: 16-19). Nowhere does God say that the laws that define sin are done away. On the contrary, the One who made the New Covenant possible said that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until all was fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). Quote from The Bereans.
When Jesus commands us to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, we are being asked to carry out the gospel. We are told to love one another, for love is of God and God is love. Even in Church we do not always see this evidence of love. In some churches strangers feel very welcome and are encouraged to return; in others, even the regular congregants are shunned by some who feel they’re high and mighty. Jesus told His disciples “Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greater in the kingdom of Heaven.” God is looking for humility in us; he exalts the humble and the proud He casts down. Paul warns us about not treating others as if we are better than they. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and prophets. (Matt.7:12)
“If one is a follower of Christ, he cannot be sharp in deal, he cannot be hardhearted, devoid of sympathy. He cannot be coarse in his speech. He cannot be full of pomposity and self-esteem. He cannot be overbearing, nor can he use harsh words, and censure and condemn.........Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Ellen G. White.
“One of the greatest dangers to the Christian walk is a sense of spiritual pride. Such pride makes us think we are somehow immune from committing certain types of sin. The sobering fact is that we all have the same sinful nature – a nature that is opposed to God. Thus, without the restraining power of God’s Spirit, we could stoop to just about any sin, were the circumstances right. Such an awareness of our true identity outside of Christ can keep us from falling into the sin of self-righteousness, and it also can give us greater sympathy for others who make mistakes.” – Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.
Despite their claims to be Christian, people's consistent disobedience discloses the falsehood that they are truly Christians and that God is a reality in their lives. – The Bereans
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering. Bear with each other and forgive one another if anyone of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
So, Christians awake! Read your Bible daily and frequently and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into understanding those areas that seem abstruse and need clarification. It will change your heart towards your fellowman and give you peace within.