If a person learns how certain Christians mistreated African American people, that person might be convinced that God does not exist, or Christianity is a lie. Examine what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning."
The skeptic might ask, “If Christianity is true, how can a people united by faith allow skin pigmentation to become a major line of division?” That is a fair question; but then again, when any individual looks at himself in the mirror—Christians, in particular--the dilemma of finding true Christianity is staring right back at him.
In school, teachers encourage students to look at primary documents to acquire first-hand knowledge about an era or event. If we really want to understand Selena in Browngirl Brownstones by Paule Marshall, would we rely fully on the interpretation of others who claim to have read the book? Or college professors who promote their expertise? At some point, wouldn’t we sit down and read the book ourselves? I think so. And the same holds true for determining exactly what true Christianity entails. One must go to the primary document--the Bible. Inside these pages alone is quintessential Christianity. Only the man, Jesus Christ, represents what Christianity is all about.
When studying the Book of Christianity, the Bible, the following information is key when searching for elements of true Christianity.
The individual acknowledges that God set a standard for living in this world; yet, no one has met it. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV). It may be very humbling to admit that as good, smart, beautiful, wealthy, or powerful a person may be, all of one’s best efforts fall far short of God’s standard. But the true Christian wouldn’t stop there. She would also acknowledge that because of and through Jesus Christ and His work, God overlooks our substandard status.
The first acknowledgement inspires the true Christian to gain a better understanding about how Jesus Christ is his leader. He will want to answer these and other questions: How does Jesus think? What has Jesus taught? How can I best incorporate His teachings into my life? Now that I understand my position, how am I supposed to live?
The first century Christians can be a model for pursuing true Christianity. We are told that “. . . They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 NIV). From this verse, we can conclude that for a lifetime, a true Christian finds time to study and meditate on the Bible; to associate with other Christians; to remember the sacrificial moment of the faith; and to remain in constant communication with God. But there is more that a true Christian would do.
A true Christian projects love. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). Jesus spoke to His disciples when He made this statement. He told them that when people look at how the twelve behaved, other people should see love. Outsiders should see kindness among you. They should see humility. All the virtues listed in 1 Corinthians 13 should be evident in your interactions with each other.
True Christianity involves a silent, spiritual way of life that spills over into our families, churches, communities, and nations. True Christians may not demonstrate the trappings of religion because true Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with God that impacts our relationships with those around us.
All of us who call ourselves Christians can take the responsibility of making sure that we are doing our best to practice true Christianity, and its essence will radiate from our lives.
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