Someone once asked me what difference Jesus Christ makes. It’s a good question. We should be able to see Christ in his followers. Unfortunately sometimes we don’t. Sometimes Christians act far from the person of Jesus we see in the Bible. And they repel others from the magnificent, passionate, and revolutionary Jesus. I’m sure I have at times.
But let’s not forget that it’s a process. We don’t grow into Jesus and become a new creation fused of Christ and us overnight. It’s walk then run, crawl then skip, jump then fall, backwards ten steps. We can’t expect to become our new glorious selves right away. Christ has to show himself to us, and we respond, and his Spirit begins to transform us, working with crafty hands and our humble hearts. It’s beautiful.
So what difference does Jesus Christ make? Here are 10 ways Christians are different from everyone else. The reason is Christ incarnate in the life of the Christian.
Many of us have prescribed comfort as our right. We think we deserve to be comfortable, so we surround ourselves with objects and activities that deliver comfort. But Jesus isn’t interested in comfort; he’s interested in delivering peace. This peace is found solely in a relationship with our Heavenly Father, not in placing things around us to feel more comfortable.
The opposite of greed is not generosity, it’s contentment. Contentment is being satisfied with what we have. We can be generous, giving away great sums of money, but still be greedy. A billionaire gives away $100,000, but keeps the rest for himself. Is this generous or greedy? On the other hand, contentment says we are grateful for what we have. Whether a lot or a little, we’re fine with it because we have God.
Sometimes we get our good works out of order. We try to earn God’s grace like a child doing chores to make up for breaking Mama’s expensive vase. But this is the wrong way around. When we try to earn grace, it ceases being grace. Instead, when we realize God’s grace is lavished on us without restraint, it produces such thanksgiving that we spend our lives in service.
In love, the focus is giving. In lust, the focus is getting. The Christian is focused on what he or she can give, not on serving self. But lust is self-focused. The only time lust is used positively in the Bible is when the Apostle Paul said he longed for heaven. He wanted to be on earth, but he also wanted to be in heaven. I can understand why he lusted after heaven. It seems like quite a place!
Many of us are looking for shortcuts when things get tough. We’d rather have pleasure than persevere. But endurance is a key to finishing well. Few good things come without effort. The problem is, we don’t have the appetite or stamina to stay in things. We bail out way too soon. But perseverance ensures we stay strong until the end.
When a person becomes a Christian, he becomes a member of the Church. He is called to participate with others, help carry their burdens, encourage them, and ask for help. Christians aren’t meant to live in isolation. They have things to offer and things to receive. It is through community that God develops the Christian, if we like it or not.
Let’s settle it here—the only perfect person who has ever lived or will ever live is Jesus Christ. Why is that? Because we have all sinned and everyone will keep on sinning. The Bible says if we break one command, we break them all. One lie, one theft, one dishonoring word toward your parent breaks the perfect mold. But take heart, this is why we have a Savior. Instead of parading under the childish mask, let’s boast in our weakness. The Savior has come to our rescue!
Jesus said to love God so much it looks like you hate your family. But we get this backwards. We’ll love God to the extent it doesn’t interfere with our family. We’ll keep our kids from harm even if God is calling us to danger. We’ll compromise our walks with God to keep our marriage happy. But for the Christian, God comes first, and because God comes first, the family is better off.
Shame derives from the sense that something is wrong with who we are. Sometimes shame is helpful because it alerts us to something that needs healing. But Christians don’t remain in shame because we have been given incredible identities as sons and daughters of God. We only take shape in Christ, who enables and fulfills the people we were created to be. When we are who we truly are, that is glory.
The Bible says the road to God is wide, but the gate is narrow. Many would like to believe a plurality of gods will save us. We can choose the god we like the best, and as long as we’re reverent and sincere, we’ll be saved. But this nullifies the death and resurrection of Jesus. If I could be saved by a blade of grass, or whatever wind of my choosing, why did Jesus have to die? Salvation is by Jesus alone.
I pray we live in God’s magnificent grace. If you have questions about what these mean, or if you want to start a relationship with Jesus, please let me know.