Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). What does abide in Jesus mean? The answer is found in something else Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him,” (John 14:23). Jesus is concerned about the interior life of a believer; the struggle that is going on inside of a Christian.
Today our struggle is finding meaning to life in a world framed by suffering, and evil. We want answers that have meaning to our lives. But we live in the post-modern world that disavows truth, and settles on feelings as the answers to what is right, “If it feels right, it’s right.” In the world today truth is what you believe it to be.
Jesus did not come to give us a new thought; though there is nothing more profound then knowing him. He did not come to give us a new experience; though there is nothing more life changing than him. He did not come to give you a new list of things to do; though we are known by the things we do. Christianity is rooted in abiding in Jesus. The apostle John once wrote, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (1:4). Jesus is not an abstract thought, he is real, and abiding in Him gives us the answer we seek.
When I meet someone new, and they find out I’m a pastor, they inevitably ask, “What denomination are you?” They are surprised when I tell them I’m not from any denomination, I’m just a Christian. I answer this because when you read and study the Bible you learn that those who respond to what the Bible teaches become only one thing – Christian.
A Christian believes in the Catholic Church, or the universal church, but they are not Roman Catholic. They believe in the reformation of the church, but they are not Lutheran. They believe in in baptism, but they are not Baptist. They believe in the orthodoxy of the church, but they are not Orthodox. They believe in Pentecost, but they are not Pentecostal.
A Christian simply opens the Bible and replicates what Christians did in the first century. What did they do? They met on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. They sang songs of praise to God, and Jesus. They celebrated communion. They read from the Torah, and from the letters from the Apostles as they received them. They prayed for each other. They baptized new believers. They met regularly with each other during the week. They receive gifts from the Holy Spirit known as fruits of the spirits, and used those gifts to enhance the Church, and to further the Gospel. Finally they welcomed others into their meetings.
That is what the first church did, and that is what this church does. We do it because we are just Christians.
Just a Christian,
We all have a Bible in our home. It was probably gifted to you when you went through confirmation class, or graduated from high school. Since that gifting it has followed you around through your various moves. There are two remarkable similarities to all those Bibles that are out there in our homes. First, though different in translation, they all have the same message: God loves you, and Christ died for you so that you can have eternal life. Second, those Bibles have lasted all this time because no one has ever read them.
Paul wrote, “When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me” (1Cor. 13:11). Isn’t it time we put away our childish thoughts about the Bible, and began reading it?
Here are some hints to help you read that Bible. The first hint is what the Bible is about. Genesis 1-11 is about the fall of man. Genesis 12 – Revelation 22 is God’s response to that fall. It’s God’s offer to man for a way back to Him. That’s the whole story in a nutshell. Second, just read 7 minutes a day, but before you start pray. Third, start your reading in the Book of Luke, then go to Acts, and then to Genesis. Once you have read these three book you will have the big picture of the Bible. From there you can skip around and read any of the books that interest you.