August 2016

August 1, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

What does it mean to be a Christian? Our answers may be different but with the common ground of a ‘believer in Jesus’. So let’s push the question further and try to discover some parameters for what it means to be a Christian. If we are to discover that then we need to begin with Jesus Christ because a Christian is a believer in and a follower of Christ. In fact Jesus told us to believe in Him and to follow Him but it did not stop there.

It may surprise you to discover that Jesus gave three hundred commands to his followers, some were specific to his disciples but most were meant for all Christians for all time. If you want a list of them all you can pick it up from the back of the church. They can be grouped into three basic areas, namely ourselves, our relationships with other people, our relationship with God. They cover every aspect of our daily living and as such can be a great help to us. However the problem is that if we focus too much on them then our faith becomes legalistic not spirit led. Yet if we simply dismiss them then we are rejecting words of Jesus directed at us. Somehow our lives have to be lived in such close communion with Jesus that we abide by his commands without thinking about them. It is a bit like a happily married couple who naturally do things for each other without being asked because they know what their husband or wife appreciates and wants or needs at any time.

So we seem to be in a bit of conundrum. How do we know what Jesus wants from us if we do not look at his words in Scripture? How do we look at Jesus words in Scripture and follow them without being legalistic? How do we avoid the trap of ignoring Scripture and relying on our judgement thereby giving rise to the possibility of claiming that our ideas and lifestyle are what Jesus wants? It really is a minefield and one that Scripture is meant to help us through. In very general terms God will not ask or tell us to do something that is not consistent with his revealed Word, and by revealed Word we mean Holy Scripture and Jesus himself as recorded in Scripture.

It seems that we have no option. We can believe in Christ but that is only partly what it means to be a Christion. That is being a Christian in theory but not in practice. I know how to swim but I can’t swim, I know how to play the piano and I can even read music but I can’t play the piano. I know people who sail through the theory driving test but fail the practical time after time, and so I could go on. The theory is not enough. Jesus told us to follow Him and that means doing, saying even thinking as he would himself. The only way that we are going to know that is to read his word, learn his commands and let them become our natural way of living.

I have often heard people say ‘you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian’. As a statement that is true but if you are a Christian you will want to go to church to meet like-minded people just as people who like playing tennis, football, golf, badminton, etc find others to play with. Furthermore the New Testament makes it clear that Christians should meet together for mutual support, companionship, worship, prayer and spiritual growth. As Christians we should be together not apart.