I cannot recall the number of times I have heard my fellow Christian brothers and sisters repeated the phrase: “I want to love as Jesus does”. I have even used this phrase countless times. However, after careful examination of the life Jesus lived, and the things He did and stood for, when He walked this earth, I am convince human beings cannot love as Jesus does. Furthermore, Jesus did not tell humans to love like He does. He commanded them to love their neighbors with the same sincerity as they would themselves. The apostle John who was up close and personal with Jesus writes the following: “Greater love has no man than this that a man (Jesus) lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Apparently many of us who call ourselves Christians are not authentic at all. Jesus implies this crucial point in Matthew 7:21-23 when He tells His disciples the following: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we, not prophesy in your name? Did we not cast out demons in your name, and did many powerful deeds in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’”.
According to Greg Laurie of Jesus.org, there are five essential characteristics which a person must display before he or she can call them self an authentic Christian.
Firstly, an authentic Christian confesses Jesus Christ as Lord (1 John 4:15). Christianity must begin with a verbal acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. The Bible says that even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). True Christians should be able to say that Jesus Christ is their Lord.
Secondly, if a person is a true Christian, one will be unhappy or miserable when one is sinning (1 John 3:9). This does not means Christians are immune to sin. (1 John 1:8). A true child of God will have a sense of discomfort when he or she sin; because you know in your heart of hearts that what you are doing is wrong.
Thirdly, an authentic Christian enjoys fellowship with other believers. (1 John 5:1). A true Christian will want to be around other Christians. Those who isolate themselves from other believers do so at their own peril, because the Bible tells us that it is important to get together, encourage one another, and correct one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Fourthly, an authentic Christian obeys the commands of Jesus Christ. If you are a true believer, then you will obey the commands of Jesus Christ (1 John 5:3). The person who blatantly and continually breaks the commandments of God simply does not know Him.
Finally, an authentic Christian loves and obeys the Word of God (1 John 2:5). You cannot effectively live the Christian life without a love for, and obedience to, God’s Word. All true disciples of Jesus Christ will be students of Scripture and will walk according to its teaching. This is vital to authentic Christian living, because the Bible is indeed the very textbook of life (2 Timothy 3:16).
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17).
Everybody stumbles and everybody fall sometimes; including the most pious among us. However, as Christians we routinely ignore these fundamental biblical facts, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)… “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Still many in Christendom and other religions too, have adopted the holier-than-thou personality and set themselves up as judge and jury. Consequently, instead of helping to strengthen and pick up the fallen, they selflessly unleash judgment base on their emotions. This is a dangerous practice, especially when the judge and jury themselves have bigger planks in their eyes than that they seek to remove from another person’s eye.
I have seen many young Christian women got thrown out of the Church because they got pregnant. Sometimes even the parents side with the draconian tribunal, leaving the victim feeling hopeless and abandoned. Everyone in the Church understands that salvation is a gift from God, which none of us deserve. The apostle Paul said it best, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. It is not by your own merit; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Hence, when a brother or a sister falls it is the duty of the Church to encourage and support the person rather than being judge and jury.
This premise that a sin committed publicly, deserves a harsher punishment than that committed privately is a fallacy. Jesus debunk this argument when religious leaders brought a women caught committing adultery to Him. The religious leaders of the day were expecting Jesus to hand down the ultimate punishment–death by stoning, but He surprised them. Jesus did not condemn the woman or her accusers. As a matter of fact, He did not utter a condemning word.
Here, is John’s account of the incident: Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. Furthermore, when they set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, we caught this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. What do you say” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accused Him. However, Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, became convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. Then Jesus was alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had straightened Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has not anyone one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11).
Jesus makes an astonishing statement when He declares: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will; is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:35-40).
When the teachers of the law heard this they began to grumble, “. . . “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (John 6:42). But Jesus was talking about the spiritual Bread that nourishes the soul.
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘they will all be taught by God. ‘Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 43-51).
When we think of bread, we think of something that accompanies a meal, not something that is the meal as Jesus indicates.
When Jesus tells us that He is the bread of life, He is also telling us that we will never hunger again. It means that Jesus is enough! When we come to Him and partake of His life, we will never hunger after another savior to redeem us; we will never hunger after another teacher to instruct us.
Jesus’ peace is enough, His presence is enough, His fellowship is enough; His atonement is enough, His Lordship is enough, His Kingdom is enough, His grace is enough, His mercy is enough, and His love is enough. He is the bread of life.
And Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1).
Those are the words Jesus used to console His disciples, who were apparently troubled after He had broken the news to them that He had to go back to His Father.
It seems the disciples were doubtful that they could make it on their own—their hearts were troubled. After all, they had been with Jesus since the beginning of His ministry, and had gotten accustomed to having Jesus ministering to them, and providing for them—He was their source for everything.
Jesus knew His disciples were troubled. He could tell by the look on their faces. He knew that a troubled heart is a doubtful heart, so He immediately tried to dispel the doubt with the reassuring words of: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.” The disciples, I am sure, were delighted to hear those words. Still, they were not enough to convince them. Doubt and fear had overtaken their thought process, and they could not see themselves surviving without Jesus (See John 14:18-24).
One of the ways “troubled” tries to attack you is to plant the seed of doubt in your heart. The presence of a “troubled” heart is due to the absence of a believing heart. But faith is like a strong gate that keeps all unwanted visitors out of the fortress of our hearts, while keeping safely within, all the welcomed promises of God’s kingdom. Isn’t that beautiful?
Jesus never wants the visitor named “troubled” to gain any entrance into your life. “Troubled” wants to stir you up inside, like the river rapid. “Troubled” wants to attack your emotions and keep you disturbed and miserable. “Troubled” uses weapons of fear, doubt, and perplexity. “Troubled” will try to harass you, annoy you, and defeat you.
But faith has mightier weapons! Faith’s victory is in the stillness, the calm, the quiet, the rest, and the peace of Jesus Christ within you.