What Is A Christian?
There are many thousands of religious people and church members who are not real Christians.
"The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men" (Isaiah 29:13).
When God speaks of our "hearts", he is speaking of the center of our emotions, affections and motivations. We know that if we "set our heart on something", then we will be highly motivated until our "heart’s desires" are fulfilled. If someone’s heart is set on an Olympic gold metal, his heart will motivate him in some extreme and many subtle ways.
God wants our hearts. He can tell the difference between someone who "is a good person" or maybe "goes to church" versus someone who has given his heart to God. God is telling us that there are many people who "say the right things"; they even "worship" him. But, still, God says their hearts are far from Him. He LOVES us so much that he sent His Son as a sacrifice for us! He LONGS for us to love him too. Jesus is like a loving groom who really wants more than anything to have a loving bride. And he deserves to have a bride. In the Bible, those who love God from the heart are described as "the Bride" of Christ!
Do you see the picture? It is much different than a stale religion that is relegated to a day or two per week. It is much more than "being good". Just as marriage involves a deep love, complete commitment, and true fellowship, walking with God is all of this too! And hopefully you can see that this has nothing to do with trying to stay out of hell or following a religion because of a guilt trip.
Have you given your "heart" to God? The question isn’t whether you say nice things about or to God. The question isn’t whether you "worship" God within the bounds of "religion". The question is, does God have your very heart?
In a good marriage, husband and wife grow in their love for each other as time passes. The same is true of love for God. I’m not asking you if you love God as someone who has been walking with him for many years; just "does God have your heart"?
Can you see how Jesus is not merely a historical figure to a real Christian? Christians don’t merely gather to exchange information about what Jesus said and did. Rather, Christ is the center of a Christian’s thoughts, plans and activities.
Anyone who is truly in Christ is a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). He has not merely joined a church, or become religious, or been baptized, or gone forward in a church meeting, or prayed for salvation. All this may be only an empty shell. He has something deeper than this. He has not merely changed a few outward things. His nature is changed, from the inside out. He is converted, from an enemy of God to a child of God. He is born again with a new life from God, and the Bible says, "Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). His whole being is renewed, made over, created anew, so that he is no longer the same man he was before. He is a new creature and has a New Life.
God gives new life! Those who love him will have new friends, new thoughts and goals, new habits and activities--in short, a whole new life. They are born again. They don’t merely make a few outward changes, but all things have changed--the places they go, the way they spend their time and money, the thoughts they think, the songs they sing, the things they love or hate--all that he is and does is become new.
It is important to emphasize that this New Life does not come from "religious rules". When a person loves God from the heart and God pours out His love and favor upon the person…WOW! How can it be any other way? We would never want treat God lightly. He has revealed himself to us. He is real, with real thoughts and feelings. And he is NEAR. And, oh, how we love him!
God is the source of this new life, and everything in it. This new life isn’t something that a distant God imposes upon us. He saves us from an empty way of life. He saves us from temporary, meaningless pastimes and fills all of our days with purpose.
Please don’t settle for "religion"; it can’t save you. Don’t settle for anything less that God himself pouring out his love upon you. Give him your heart. Place your future at his feet. Your life will never be the same.