Genuine Christianity

     When you think of a Christian what kind of a person comes up in your mind?  --A sanctimonious, holier-than-thou person? –a sort of legalistic person who lives by long lists of “thou shalt’s” and “thou shalt not’s”, (and most of them without any Biblical basis).  Perhaps you picture a Christian as a cold, unfeeling, judgmental kind of person.  On the other hand, you may think of a Christian as an emotional, even fanatical person who lives in a strange world of his or her own.      Sadly, there are people who profess to be Christians who fit all the above images.  Yet none of these descriptions fit Jesus.


Jesus Christ was the most perfectly balanced human who ever lived. We credit that balance to His being God in human flesh and “…In Him dwells all the fullness of of the Godhead bodily.”    Colossians 2:9

Jesus was sinless. 
     He was “…But was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Hebrews 4:15.  Although Satan and his demons fired their entire arsenal of fiery darts of temptation at Jesus, there was not one that brought forth sin.

Jesus was loving and compassionate.  
     “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”  Matthew 9:36.  He loved the loveless and spent countless hours in selfless ministry on behalf of the needy.  His words were “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28.

Jesus was committed to doing the will of His heavenly Father.
      “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:38.  Jesus always did the will of His heavenly Father.  It did not matter what His personal desires were or what “everybody else” did, or what the non-Biblical pressures of religious leaders were, He always chose to do the will of the heavenly Father.

Jesus embraced all mankind in His love.
     Jesus taught his disciples to love the Lord their God and to love their neighbors.  He also taught them to love their enemies.  Jesus could teach His disciples to love others because He did.  In love, He reached out to the common people, the downtrodden, the sick and afflicted and the worst of sinners.  His love also embraced religious leaders, the wealthy and the powerful.

Jesus sacrificed Himself to enrich others. 
     “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you, through His poverty might become rich.”   2nd Corinthians 8:9. 

       Before Jesus came into the world the prophet Isaiah was given a vision of Him as he worshipped in the Jerusalem temple.  He saw Jesus sitting on a throne lofty and exalted.  His majestic garments filled the temple.  Angels of the highest rank, called Seraphim, hovered above Him.  They had six wings.  With two of their wings they covered their face.  With two of their wings they covered their feet and with two of their wings they flew.  One Seraphim called out to the others and said "Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory."  And the thresholds of the temple trembled and the temple filled with smoke.  Isaiah 6.  How do we know it was Jesus that Isaiah saw?  Because the apostle John referred to this experience and wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "These things Isaiah said, when he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him."  John 12:41.

       The apostle Paul gives us some idea of the riches, power, and position Jesus laid aside and the degree to which He made Himself poor.  "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,, but made Himself of no reputation,  taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross."  Philippians 2:5-8.  And why did He do it?  To make it possible for every human to receive forgiveness of sins and a spiritual birth into God's family and become children of God and heirs together with Jesus of all the riches of God.  Jesus lived generously to enrich others.

Jesus became a powerful attraction to others.

      "Great multitudes followed Him---from Galilee and Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan."  Matthew 4:25
     "When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him."  Matthew 8:1.
     "And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore."  Matthew 13:2

   The above illustrations of the powerful attraction of the selfless Jesus are multiplied in the gospels.

Jesus Calls His Followers To Be Like Him

       To Peter, Andrew, James, John, Levi (renamed Matthew), and Philip we have His recorded invitation, "Follow Me."  It is representative of His call to countless of others. (Matthew 11:28-30).  The time came when Jesus explained further what this involved. "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"  Matthew 16:24.  Jesus was referring to the most gory form of death the world has ever seen.  It was the form of  death by which He would pay the redemption price for the sins of the world.  What could He possibly mean by making this a requirement for us to be one of His true disciples?  Jesus would shed more light in bits and pieces from time to time However, it would fall to the apostle Paul to explain this truth at length in Romans 6.  Jesus was teaching that in order for believers to become true disciples they must consider themselves dead to the wrong desires of their fleshly nature…and do so every day (Luke 9:23).  This is necessary to set our new spiritual nature free from the hindrances of a fleshly nature possessed by self-interest.

       In times past it was common to attach a heavy iron ball to the ankle of prisoners with an iron chain.  The purpose was to rig the prisoner with a hindrance that would make it virtually impossible for the prisoner to escape to freedom.  In the same sense, as long as the wrong desires of our fleshly nature are dominant it is impossible for our spiritual nature to live the generous life like Jesus.  To be set totally free we must, by faith, consider our fleshly self-interest nature dead every day.

Our Spiritual Nature Grows In Maturity And Generosity

  The Bible speaks often about spiritual growth:  "but speaking the truth in love, may grown up in all things into Him, who is head---Christ..."  Ephesians 4:15. "...As  newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby."  1st Peter 2:2.  "but grow in grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ…"  2nd  Peter 3:18.  With each level of growth the believer lives the generous life more fully.

The believer's first level is self-interest. 
We note that Peter referred to new Christians as newborn babes.  At this level believers are motivated mostly by the self-interest of the fleshly nature.  (See 1st Corinthians 3:1-3)  They tend to look at the church with the idea, "What are the benefits my family and me get out of the church?  We learned how to be saved and know we're going to heaven.  That's good.  We sure have learned a lot of the teachings of the Bible here.  That's good.  Our kids have learned a lot of spiritual truth and moral values and they also have some really good activities.  That's good.  And we all really enjoy the times of worship.  That's good.  I guess we ought to support the church by our attendance and offerings enough to keep it from folding up."

They're motivated by self-interest purposes to keep the church going because of the benefits they get from it.

Many believers grow up to a higher level which is the level of spiritual gratitude. 
As these believers become aware of all that God has done for them in the past, all that He is doing for them in the present and all that He's going to do for them in the future a spirit of gratitude begins to rise up in their soul.  They begin to think of how God knew all about them before the foundation of the world…every sinful thought, word and deed they ever had and ever will have and He still loved them enough to send His Son to receive their punishment for them on the cross.  They think of how they did not seek God, but God sought them until they said, "Okay God, I'll receive Jesus as my Savior"  They think about the countless blessings that come flowing into their life every day and how God is not going to hold any of His resources back in pouring out His blessing on them for all eternity.  They begin to understand why the psalmist wrote long ago, "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?" Psalms 116:12.  They rise to a higher level in their worship of God, their ministry to others, their witness to the lost and their giving to God's work.

From the level of gratitude many Christians rise to the higher level of delighting to do God's will. 
We saw how Jesus was totally committed to doing God's will.  To David it had been revealed what was in the heart of Jesus Christ before He ever came into the world, "Then I said, 'Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me;  I delight to do Your will, O My God.'"  Psalm 40:7, 8.  That new born babe in Christ who is still primarily motivated by the self-interest of the fleshly nature knows nothing about this.  But that believer in whose heart gratitude has done its work can say, "I can now understand why Jesus found delight in coming into the world and even dying for our sins on the cross.  He looked beyond the rejection and suffering to all the unspeakable good that would be accomplished for all eternity."  Now I understand that when I do God's will I am making my contribution to the eternal fulfillment of the glorious purposes of God."  And so this believer begins to study God's word with delight to find out what God teaches he or she should do.  The believer becomes more sensitive to the leading and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do some special thing as he or she goes through each day.  They delight in giving themselves and their resources to bring blessing to others because they delight to do God's will.

     When believers are at the levels of spiritual gratitude and delight in doing God's will there are two other facts that begin to work more powerfully in their lives than ever before.

The first factor is the clarity of their spiritual vision.    
They begin to see many things with a new clarity.  They see that there are things terribly wrong with this world and no human or human organization can fix them.  They realize that Christ alone is the answer to the desperate needs of humanity.  They also see that Christ is at work in His church working through people like himself or herself to bring salvation and abundant life to one person at a time.  This person is moved to channel their time, energy and resources into that church where lives are being touched and changed for this life and for eternity.

The second factor is the love of Christ burning with a new warmth in their heart. 
No longer do they look at people and decide to like them or dislike them because they are pleasant or unpleasant to be around.  They see even the most repelling person as someone Christ loved and died for and they know that if that person will just receive Jesus Christ as Savior then Jesus will change them and mold them into a trophy of His saving grace.  They begin to reach out to all they can with the love of Christ.

       Where are you today?  Are you still outside of a relationship with Christ?  Are you still a spiritual babe motivated by self-interest?  Are you on  the level of true gratitude for all God has done, is doing, and will yet do in your life?  Are you on the level of delighting to do God's will with the factors of clear spiritual vision and the love of Christ working powerfully in your heart.  Wherever you are I ask you to join me in asking God to enable us to rise to the next level.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted