How do Christians behave? Also, what is a Christian?
I bet you’re thinking the answer is someone who believes in Jesus. You would be correct. Maybe the question would be served up like – What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Now, Dr. Masaki would probably say, “You ask the wrong question.” So how does someone know that another person is a Christian?
Can a Christian go to church every Sunday, attend Bible study on Sunday and Wednesday and maybe even attend a midweek worship service and still condone, support, vote for, and defend abortion, gay rights, same-sex marriages, or even living together?
I say no. Why? By definition of true discipleship in the Bible, you cannot faithfully say I believe and at the same time willfully reject the Lord and His teachings. St. Paul calls this being stiff-necked, or in more modern terms, unrepentant. Unrepentant sinners are eventually removed from the Church because of their perpetual sinful lifestyle.
Consider for a moment the Christian who says with their mouth, I believe in Jesus, and then teaches that your life is all about good moral living. Your life is yours. Be good. Be kind. Oh, and by the way, no worries because everyone is going to heaven. God loves all people so just be good and stay out of trouble.
I say no. Why? The Christian is a sinner who knows both the Law of God and is in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot be a Christian and reject the Law of God. The Church calls these kinds of people Antinomians. Without the Law of God, the sinner cannot know their sin. Without sin, what need is there for the Gospel? None.
Finally, can a Christian forsake the hearing of the Word of God and the reception of the Lord’s Supper and still be called a Christian? This question deals with those people who only like to come to church on Easter Sunday or maybe Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. This question deals with those people who say – I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior and remain at home on Sunday mornings and say – I don’t need to go to Church. I say my prayers. I read my Bible. I don’t need organized religion.
Examining these last two thoughts, I would like to tackle the last one first with the words of the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. While visiting a member in his first parish, then Pastor Harrison asked the man, “Why don’t I see you in church?” The farmer replied, “When I hear the bells ring, I stop the tractor and pray with the church. I worship God while I’m working the fields.” Harrison replied, “I don’t recall anywhere in the Bible where God said He would meet you on the seat of your John Deere tractor.”
Christ doesn’t meet us on our terms or our turf. He is with us in His House, in His Word, in His Sacraments, in the preaching of His Name about his redeeming work. Christ is in His Father’s House being about the Father’s work. Preaching the kingdom of God to the world.
As for the once or twice a year visitor who comes to church on Christmas and/or Easter, and claiming membership in the congregation, well, they need to study the Bible and their catechism for a few minutes to learn that they aren’t fooling anyone but themselves. Martin Luther addressed this issue and would dare not even call these folks Christian because of their neglect to hear the Word of God and to receive the Lord’s Supper. I agree.
Let us always remember these types of people, ourselves, our neighbors, and even our enemies in prayer asking The Lord for His mercy at all times. Kyrie Eleison.
+ Pastor Wurst