If you are a practicing Christian, God has certain expectations of you. Practicing Christians generally look to obey God. It has become their nature since the time they realized the value of being saved in Christ. Being saved doesn’t make a person practicing Christian. But he or she becomes one when they practice everything God says and pursue that which He desired from them. As they practice, they produce a value, which is a sweet aroma to God.
To become a practicing Christian is not easy, and yet, it is not impossible. All one has to do is surrender himself to God leaving out all the things he has thought of as utmost value to him. Do not be confused. God values everything relating to us and everything that is important in our life. He even lets us know what they are and does not let us ignore them. Yet, the things we often value are without His will and are the useless things that keep us from becoming a practicing Christian. Realizing those things and setting them aside will make us practicing Christians. And, to realize them it is necessary we find out His desires. Let us take a look at them from the Word.
- Paul in his discourse to the Corinthian Christians said the following. “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1). How important it is to constantly be a person with love! Firstly, the act of impartiality, an innate quality of God, becomes ours. We unconditionally love anyone. It means we do not make enemies or have enmity with others; we do not hold grudges. Our heart will always be pure being able to bear fruits acceptable to God. The pursuit of love allows us to perceive every person from God’s viewpoint. It helps us get closer to men in order that they get closer to God. Owing to its perfect nature, it builds relationships and keeps them. As Paul says, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:14). Again, Paul speaks of desiring spiritual gifts and in particular the gift of prophesy. Any spiritual gift will make us better and equip us to bring glory to God. When he said to desire them earnestly, it is because they are meant to play a significant role in God’s purpose for mankind. Once we begin desiring earnestly the things of God, we quickly and easily realize the things that keep us from becoming practicing Christians. And when we prophesy that which God has put in our mouth, it is a sign we have set aside the useless things.
- The Hebrew writer warned his readers saying, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1). The primary reasons for failing to become a practicing Christian is drifting away from that which we have heard concerning God, Christ and their wish for us. As much as we hear the teachings of Christ, we ought to make space for them in our hearts. The more we do it the more the Spirit helps us do it. The words “much closer attention” carry a profound meaning. They mean we ought to be more attentive to what we have heard than we have already been. The idea is that we do not miss the things of God that we have been missing. God desires we understand the full meaning of that which He says to us, even the intimate details. When we fail to do it, we fail to set aside the useless things that make us fruitless Christians.
- Paul opined the nature of practicing Christians when he said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). If we are walking by sight, we undoubtedly value the things that are of no value to God. To walk by faith simply means to live by that which God has decided for us. God reveals them to us. We may not have seen their fulfillment yet. But, we see it in the days to come. Until that time we keep the belief that they will come to pass. While having such faith we no longer give value to the useless things, and anything the world or Satan tries to induce in us to drift us away, we do not entertain. As an encouragement to walking by faith, we recollect the things God has decided for us and fulfilled. This helps us take joy from the ways He acted and take confidence in the fact that He does indeed deliver. In every matter relating to life, a practicing Christian will have to walk by faith. For the plans God has for, toward and through him are not of the flesh.
- God wants us to see from His perspective. After all it is the reason He has called us to Him. When the apostle Peter had to see from His perspective, He said, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 11:9). God has called each one of us to serve Him by understanding His viewpoint regarding the purpose He gave us. If He has given us a service, we ought not to have preferences to fulfill it. As a Jew Peter needed assurance to fulfill God’s wish. Even so, we too will need assurances from Him. And when He has given them to us, we ought to receive them with all our heart. Then He removes all impediments and empowers us to set aside all the useless things we value. Our hearts become wide open to serve Him.
- We are called to always have a forgiving heart. Pursuing love is the way for it. Then, we can perform that which Jesus seeks from us. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him’” (Luke 17:4). When we keep forgiving those who seek our forgiveness, we attain a perfect heart. Nothing will be too difficult for us. The hardest thing for a person is to genuinely forgive the wrongdoing of another. But to be like Christ is to overcome the hardest thing. The advantage is that God will love us more than ever before. Since we have put on his nature, He delights in us and nothing in life will be too difficult for us.
Nevertheless, if we do not incline ourselves to become practicing Christians or if we have not set aside the things we thought were of utmost value to us, we rejected the very presence of God that bestows untold honor upon us. And Jesus said, “Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy’” (Matt. 22:8).