By Drew Zuverink.
"For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
What does it mean to be a Christian?
If you boil everything down to the bare essentials of the Christian religion, what does it mean to be a Christian? Well a Christian is someone who has faith in Jesus Christ and what he did while he lived here on earth. Christian's believe that Jesus was fully God, that he lived a perfect and a sinless life, that he died to pay for the sins of the world and that he was raised back to life after three days proving his authority over death. Christian's believe that through Jesus' death and resurrection people are able to be forgiven of their sins and saved from the penalty of those sins, which eventually would be eternity in hell if they were never forgiven. Instead of being sent to hell after they die Christian's will enter into glory with God himself in a perfect and sinless place.
So the foundation of being a Christian is faith in Jesus Christ.
But what happens after a person has faith in Jesus and is saved from an eternity apart from God? What does the rest of their earthly life look like?
God does not just hand out get out of jail (hell) free cards and then watch people go on with life as normal. No way, God actually puts his Holy Spirit inside of that person which changes them from the inside out. Through the Holy Spirit's power Christian's are able to live lives that look a lot like Jesus' life. Jesus did a lot of things while he was on earth, a lot of good and wonderful things, and Christian's today can do those things as well through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul says that we are, "Created in Christ Jesus to do good works." When a person begins their new life as a Christian they are, "recreated," to do good works.
One of the greatest failures of church people in America is that we are often known more for what we are against than what we are for. Christian's in America are often known more for what they don't do - than for what they do. When people who aren't Christian's think of what Christian's are like they often describe them as, "They don't have sex until marriage," "They don't like gay people," "They're very judgmental," and so on. The reason that people think these things are actually what Christianity is all about is because a lot of Christian's only focus on the commandments in the Bible that tell them what they shouldn't do. It's great to obey God's laws that forbid us from doing certain things but God has a lot of commandments that tell us to do good things too, and a lot of times we ignore those.
God saves people and then immediately equips them to do good things. That is one of the reasons that he gives us his Holy Spirit - so that we can do good things. What are good things? Look for people in your life that are hurting and help them. Love on other people, not just your immediate family and friends. Share your faith with people, don't be ashamed of your love for Jesus. Be a person who helps, a person who serves, a person who gives of their time and their recourses, a person who puts other people first. Basically, copy Jesus.
Think of it this way: when I die I do not want to be remembered as a person who "didn't do." I don't want people to remember me for not swearing, not getting drunk, or not being sexually immoral. I want to be someone that is remembered for doing good things for other people. I want to be remembered as someone who constantly gave of himself for the betterment of others. That's what God wants. He wants people who obey all of his commandments, the do's and the do not's. A Christian is someone who has been changed by Christ to change the world around them. Remember that. A Christian is always someone who has been changed by Christ and then immediately empowered with the Spirit to change the world around them. Live into that calling. Love others, serve others, actually be a active in looking for people who need love, and then - be a doer.