Are you sure you are a Christian? Philippians Two.
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Generally affable, smiling easily, humming a cheery tune ~ that was my impression of the people of Antigua. Given any opportunity to engage in a little one-on-one conversation, I loved hearing about life on the beautiful tropical island. Curious, I asked, 'What is the religion on the island?' 'Oh, Christian for sure!' Iralyn answered, as she poured my iced tea. Somehow her answer surprised me. Ignorantly, I guess I expected her to mention Rastafarianism, some sort of voodoo or Hinduism, but not Christianity. Turns out Antigua is primarily a protestant country-which finding out the island just gained independence from Great Britain in 1981 made sense, I guess. (Remember when England used to call herself a Christian country? 1
Then when I walked into the gift shop on the hotel property, I heard Hillsong worship tunes playing, the jovial shopkeeper singing along-again, smiling. [the link to the song: O Praise the Name ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqBpifDpNKc] Silly, but it made me happy as a schoolgirl inside. Guess I felt an instant kinship with the lady, so I watched for a later opportunity to come in and chat privately with Adele and pray together too! Yessirree, though we live almost 4,000 miles apart, we are family.
Then I sat down on the airplane and got to thinking - it is not uncommon for people to say they are 'Christian', some say they are 'a Christian', and there does seem to be some distinction there. But does that mean that their mama took 'em to church and Sunday school when they were little, and they still sorta believe in Jesus? Or does it mean that they believe that Jesus is one among many ways to get to God? Or does it mean they go to church every Sunday, but that's where it all ends? Or yet again, does it mean that they seek to grow in the love of God and loving other people too?
Are you a Christian, friend? Are you sure? Not according to your family tradition or some denomination, please, but according to the Word of God. The manna that Paul gave us in his letter to the Philippians separates the men from the boys, I believe.
Take a look with me as Paul conveyed his heart to the people he loved so much in Philippi, and ask yourself if this describes you-
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. . . .
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow-in heaven and on earth
and under the earth-and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father...
Finally, Paul said, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Forit is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.''2
Turns out it is not just what we call ourselves be it 'Christian' en masse or 'a Christian' - an individual posture and belief before God, but
we must have a humility of heart to the things of God,
confessing that Jesus is indeed Lord, and we are to be constantly hammering out our faith in word and deed, loving God, and loving others with all we have.
Someone boldly asked me a few days ago-totally out of the blue-'when did you get saved?' Dang, no one has asked me that question that way in decades! I smiled and said, 'well, I was raised to know Jesus as a little girl, so 'a very long time ago' is my answer.'
What did this stranger from Birmingham, Alabama mean when she asked such a thing? When did I make my own choice to follow Jesus? Not cause I was raised 'Christian' or am an American, ergo I am a Christian... no, it is an understanding of a tattoo I saw on the forearm of a creole man in the customs line last night. Here's what it said:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will have eternal life.3 Jesus' words, Friend, which he followed with,
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."4
Being an Antiguan does not make you a Christian
Going to the Catholic church does not make you a Christian
Being born into a Christian family does not make you a Christian . . .
No, this one is on you-yours to decide, yours to choose.
Another new friend I met in Antigua, Marian, said it so well, 'Jesus? Oh yes, I need Jesus every day; every day, I want Jesus in my life!' There it is. That's how you can be sure you are a Christian.
1 - "Britain Really is Ceasing to be a Christian Country" The Spectator, 28 May 2016.
2 - Philippians 2.1-4, 10-11, 12b-13, Christian Standard Bible.
3 - John 3.16
4 - John 3.17