From the beginning, the Christian message included an invitation to people to commit themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and put him at the centre of their lives. It is through following Jesus that people enter the Kingdom of God and begin to experience the love and forgiveness of God.
It is clear from the New Testament that five elements are involved in being a committed Christian:
- Receiving the Holy Spirit
- and Community
Some people associate the word ‘repentance’ with doom and gloom, and feeling bad about yourself. But that’s not it at all!
Repentance really means being willing to change. It’s a change of thinking leading to a change of direction – a kind of spiritual and moral u-turn.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
Repentance is, in effect, saying to God, “I am willing to change and for the light of your love to get rid of the darkness of sin in me.”
Faith in Jesus is not just believing certain things about him. It means trusting in him to bring you into God’s love and forgiveness, and to lead and guide you through life.
There’s a lovely prayer by Bishop Richard of Chichester (1197-1253AD):
Day by day.
To be a Christian is to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means seeking to live a life centred on Jesus and shaped by his teaching and example. Jesus calls us to a life of service, and to the pursuit of justice, peace and love.
Receiving the Holy Spirit
The Apostle Paul writes:
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit… (Romans 5:5)
God wants us to know his love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. God wants to lead us and guide us through life.
We open our hearts to God’s love through the means of grace, which include prayer, worshipping with God’s people, the Lord’s Supper, and the laying on of hands. Spiritual practices such as these are at the heart of the Christian life.
Baptism is the means of grace which marks a person becoming a Christian. In the New Testament, whenever the Christian message was proclaimed, people were challenged to respond by being baptised.
“All of you must turn away from your sins and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 2:38)
The journey is made as part of a band of brothers and sisters in the Church. Finding a Christian community in which to live out our faith with the support and companionship of others is crucially important. A Christian is a follower of Jesus in community.
The Apostle Paul writes:
A Prayer of Commitment
The Chinese proverb says, “Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Here is a prayer that can be used to take an initial step of faith towards becoming a committed Christian.
Thank you that you love me. Please forgive me for turning against your love and shutting you out of my life. Thank you that Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead. I accept that Jesus is Lord, and I choose to live with him at the centre of my life. Please fill me with the Holy Spirit and help me to grow in your love within the community of your Church. Amen.