Back on August 16, 2015, I wrote a post called “Making Disciples”. The last paragraph said, “Did you notice that I haven’t said anything about talking to these ‘friends’ about Jesus. After you develop a relationship with them, if you’re a practicing Christian, Jesus will just start flowing through you to them, and touching their hearts, whether you are trying to make disciples of them or not. ‘Course that brings up the question of what does ‘practicing’ mean? But that’s a question for another day.”
Well today is the day to discuss some of what ‘practicing’ means. Let’s see, you know practicing, as in ‘practicing’ attorney? I happen to be an attorney, and that’s a scary thought. When are they going to finish practicing and start ‘being’ one? Or practicing medicine. What’s the time line for rising to the level of actually DOING it? In those cases, sounds like practicing may be a cover for seldom knowing for sure what is exactly the right thing to do. Try something and see if it works. If not, try something else.
Practicing Christian shall be deemed to be “one who is a follower of Jesus”. Follower in the Bible is often translated disciple, or ‘one who is taught’ (student). So the answer may be that a ‘practicing’ Christian is one who is striving to be like Jesus. ‘Course I’m not much on fulfilling the characteristics of a ‘striver’. I want to be like Jesus. I want to be humble and obedient; I want to trust and obey; I just don’t want to get ulcers doing it. I want to practice being a follower, but I’m pretty sure that the only way to reach the point of truly following is to surrender. As it says in Luke 9:23-24: “If you want to be a Jesus follower, you have to deny yourself; take up your cross, daily, and follow Him.” And what does “take up your cross” mean? It’s interesting that the next verse (24) seems to give an answer to that question: “If you save your life (your self) you will lose it; but if you lose your life (your self) for My sake, you will find it.” Someone has said that “take up your cross” is more fully explained in Galatians 2:20, where it says, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
What did Jesus do when He ‘took up His cross’? He died. And if we want to be like Jesus, we have to do the same. We have to die to ourselves, to our sinful nature. That is the beginning of being a “practicing” Christian. Just the beginning. Besides surrender, there are a number of things we need to understand, and a few things we need to do, in order to be practicing Christians. We’ll be discussing those in the next few days and weeks.