What does it mean to live a Christian life? This is a question I ask myself from time to time. It can’t just be about the way I act or dress, because I am aware of many people of other faiths who are also modest and have a gem of a personality. It could simply be about how we express our faith, not only in the way we dress or act, but in the passion we have when speaking about God. Having that kind of faith in God should show the inner peace and love that is in us. Thinking about this led me to wonder about what happens when we have an off day, or month, or year(s)? I mean we most certainly cannot be perfect all day, every day. In moments like these, we need to rely on having family members, friends, or church members to hold us accountable for our actions.
I strongly believe God made us to work as a unit. This means our actions not only affect us, but also ripple on to the lives that are connected to us. God never intended for us to live an isolated life or to be selfish. I must confess: I am at the point in my life where I don’t feel like I have an obligation to others. I used to think this was my time to focus on me, but I was wrong for believing that. I also found myself making decisions while only considering how it could impact my life. Not only did this lead to some questionable choices on my part, but also took me far away from my Christian family unit. There’s a saying, “It takes a village to bring up a child”; in the same way, it takes many Christians to help one walk in way that is pleasing to God. It has taken me a long time to realize this, but we just aren’t meant to do this alone.
1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 (NIV)
“10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, […].”
If this is a realization for you that is fairly recent, as it was for me, you might be wondering what your role is in encouraging and supporting your fellow believers. Let’s just focus on the simple tasks each of us can surely do for our brothers and sisters. As I kept reading Chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, I found that we can help each other by warning each other. If we find that someone is doing or saying something that would not be pleasing to God, we can gently and gracefully talk to them about whatever the issue is. Be a source of encouragement when others are going through a rough time and remind them of the hope and love that can be found in Christ. Being patient with others and God (this one is tough!) is a character trait that helps us learn to trust in His timing, rather than hurry things. These are important roles that each of us should acquire as a Christian. Not only are we responsible for our lives, but also the lives of our family and friends. So it is extremely important to think about whether our behavior helps or hinders the faith of those around us.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (NIV)
14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
God gave us the freedom and wisdom to make our own decisions, and we have every right to use it. However, if we aren’t careful to follow the word of God, Satan will use this freedom as a tool to tempt us into sin. We just have to understand that obedience to God should have higher priority than exercising our freedom. If you are someone that is struggling to get close to God and you are trying to do it on your own, I highly encourage you to seek out help. It will not only help you grow as a Christian, but will also help you connect and have fellowship. Let’s face it, you know it’s better than trying it all on your own. And if you are already plugged in to a group, look out for people that you know need the support and encouragement that you get to grow from, and invite them to join you. Just remember, we’re all in this together, guys!