Christianity: what does the term mean? Although we have a superficial understanding of the word, we seldom spend time contemplating what the word “Christian” really means. The term, in the most basic definition, means to be Christ-like, a very high calling indeed. What an honor it is that we humans are invited to be like the king of the universe. And what a humiliating experience it was for the God who holds the world in His hand and is the sustainer of all things to come down to this earth of sin and be one of a broken and vile race. The best way for us to truly understand the power of living Christianity is to study Christ and His life among us.
We were created to have the wonderful privilege of being in the likeness of God. The great Creator said, “Let us make man in our image …” Genesis 1:26. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27. However, when sin entered, man cut himself off from God, the source of life, and thus accepted another leader, the source of death. Sin is a terrible offender. It is the exact opposite of the love of God, and has no place in His kingdom, and, unfortunately, sin carries a heavy price. God loved man so much that He was willing to pay that price for sin. He died so that eternal life, that we forfeited, could be reversed, to free us from the tyrannical rule of Satan. Our debt for sin paid, we now have the opportunity to accept the gift and live in such a manner. The plan of salvation has been explained for us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Christian life demands action. Christ came and lived among us to show us how we are to fashion our lives. Jesus had to learn from infanthood just as we have to. He developed habits and skills just as we have to. Each country has its own traditions, customs, skills, and habits that are developed. In China, for example, people eat with chop sticks; in other countries, with their fingers; in the United States, a fork, knife, and spoon are traditional. We learn by watching and listening to others; we combine what we see and hear with our inherited tendencies and capabilities, and thus form our habits of living. Jesus did the same while He was with us.
God created man not just to go about daily life robotically, but to think, and choose, and feel as he meets different situations in life. What we choose is governed by what we think, and our thoughts are gathered by what we take in from what is around us, what we read, and from experiences and situations that have come to us in our lives. Practical Godliness is doing things that need to be done in a way that is pleasing to God. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31. In order that we may know what is pleasing to God, we must look to the life of Jesus when He was on earth, and study God’s word.
To glorify God physically, our health must be carefully tended to. Every individual must eat, drink, sleep, exercise, etc. But Christians are asked to make wise choices in these areas, choices that are against what most people do. We are asked to be responsible with the foods and drinks that we consume so that our bodies may be in optimum health. We need to balance exercise and rest for the maximum strength and stamina. We must also responsibly manage time for ourselves and time designated to others and their well-being. Living with these things as priorities is one form of practical Christianity.
Clean and healthy bodies are one part of Godliness; another is environmental cleanliness. Therefore, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and dusting, if done in a cheerful manner with a prayer in your heart, are also forms of practical Godliness. All such things as mowing the lawn, trimming the trees, and cleaning the sidewalks are included, if done with a sweet and pleasant spirit. Cleanliness is very important to God. “Order and cleanliness is the law of heaven; and in order to come into harmony with the divine arrangement, it is our duty to be neat.” The Adventist Home, 224. “Home duties should be performed with the consciousness that if they are done in the right spirit, they give an experience that will enable us to work for Christ in the most permanent and thorough manner. Oh, what might not a living Christian do in missionary lines by performing faithfully the daily duties, cheerfully lifting the cross, not neglecting any work, however disagreeable to the natural feelings!” The Adventist Home, 35.
Living a practical Christian life is not just about keeping oneself healthy and tidy. Matthew 7:12 reads, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” In other words, we should practice courtesy, kindness, thoughtfulness, and compassion. Jesus explained this further in a parable that describes the experience of Him coming back to earth; “The golden rule is the principle of true courtesy, and its truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus. Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord. Their faces will reflect light from His, brightening the path for stumbling and weary feet.” The Adventist Home, 424.
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:31–40. These verses in Matthew describe the core of Godliness. When we see someone in need, we are to help them in whatever way we are capable. Our actions to one another are counted as having been done to the Savior Himself. He so identifies Himself with the human race that He feels and understands every act of kindness or brutality.
Godliness encompasses more than just human relationships and habits. We must have an intimate knowledge of someone to take on his or her thought patterns, behaviors, and values. We need to know God intimately. When we study Christ’s life, there are several things that are quite striking, the first of which is that He was intimately acquainted with Scripture. In His teachings, Christ told the people, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39. He told the Sadducees, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” Mark 12:24. When Jesus was suffering great agony, He said to His disciples, “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” Matthew 26:54. Jesus knew His Bible, and in knowing it, He was able to resist the devil and live according to God’s will. Secondly, He spent much time in prayer and fasting. Jesus was able to resist Satan in the wilderness in His dilapidated state because God the Father and the Scriptures were imbedded in His heart. Luke 6:12 gives us a picture of His dedication to speaking with God the Father; “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” It is recorded that when His disciples heard Him praying, they were impressed, and asked to be taught to pray as Jesus did. “And it came to pass, that as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of His disciples said unto him, Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1. In response to their request, Jesus gave them what we now call The Lord’s Prayer; “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9–11. We can read about Jesus fasting in Matthew, chapter 4. His church attendance is evident in Luke 4:16: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
If one was to sum up a life of practical Christianity, it could be said that it is living a life guided by the principles laid down in the word of God, which gives us a divine pattern to follow. In doing so, our lives will be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
“A living faith in Christ is demonstrated by good deeds in our families, and our neighborhoods, by thoughtful, and practical consideration of the poor, by visiting and comforting the widows and the fatherless in their affliction, by keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, and by using our means and influence for the advancement of the cause of God. This must not be done grudgingly or murmuringly, but freely and cheerfully as Jesus gave all for us.” The Signs of the Times, August 22, 1878.
Ruth Grosboll works at Steps to Life. She can be contacted by email at: email@example.com.