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Thursday, April 23, 2009

How a Christian Behaves

The label "Christian" is used as loosely as the word "love" in our conversations. We love ice cream, movies, songs, and puppies. But at some point, we must recognize that real "love" has a deeper meaning and more serious consequences. Real love, as God defines it, demands that we give of ourselves, that we act in the best interest of another -- whether or not we "feel" like doing so and regardless of how others respond.

Anyone can call himself a Christian. We even use the word as an adjective -- a "Christian" nation, a "Christian" family, etc. Luke writes in Acts 11:26 that the disciples of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch. Throughout the New Testament, we read God's instructions to Christians about how they should live their lives. For example, prior to Jesus' death, He teaches His disciples how to respond to the world around them:

"But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke 6:27-28).

Similarly, the inspired apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God...." (vs. 17)

"To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink...." (vs. 20)

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (vs. 21).

Does this sound like a person Homeland Security needs to add to their "terrorist suspect" list? Of course not! Yet those who live by these values and standards are included in the "right-wing" crowd our government considers a threat to our nation's well-being.

No doubt, there are always individuals who call themselves Christians, but by their fruits (behavior), they deny Christ rather than glorify Him. A distinction must be made between those who label themselves Christians and those who are Christians.

**All Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version.