Why Would Anyone Be a Christian?

Sitting and Looking at SunsetIn the previous article, we discussed the demands of discipleship. We saw that in order to be one of Jesus’ disciples, we must be willing to surrender earthly homes and family relationships and make a lifelong commitment to Him. Many are unwilling to do this. Others are not only unwilling, but they also do not understand why anyone would do this.

The fact that people would question the reasonableness of being a Christian is understandable. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). For one who is only looking at things as they pertain to life here on the earth, it does not make sense for anyone to be a disciple of Christ.

Yet there certainly are reasons for being a disciple despite the demanding nature of that life. In this article, we are going to consider four reasons why we are Christians and why we believe others should be as well.

Christians Have Hope

This world can seem hopeless. The wise man wrote, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Yet if we follow Christ, we have hope.

  • Hope beyond this life – Jesus came to earth in order to take away the fear of death. The Hebrew writer explained this: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Paul explained that those who “have been baptized into Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:3) have hope of defeating death: “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5). He went on to say, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again…” (Romans 6:8-9). As Jesus lives eternally, we have hope of living eternally as well.
  • Hope beyond the things of this world – This world is full of trouble. Job recognized this and said, “Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil” (Job 14:1). No one will escape the troubles of this life. In commenting on the state of man, the wise man wrote, “Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger” (Ecclesiastes 5:17). Furthermore, anything that we might gain in this life is only temporary and uncertain (Matthew 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:17). The efforts we put forth to gain the things of this world are ultimately meaningless (cf. Proverbs 23:4-5). Yet the Lord offers us “life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:19) – something more than the life we know here.
  • Hope for the resurrection – Without this, being a Christian would be meaningless. The verse cited at the beginning of this article – “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19) – came in the context of Paul’s discussion about the resurrection. If there is no resurrection, those who are Christians are in a most pitiful state. Yet Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Therefore, those in Christ have hope. Paul encouraged the brethren in Thessalonica with this fact as he wrote about those of their number who had passed from this life: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). Even through death, it is worth it to be a Christian.

Christians Have a Purpose

People want their lives to have meaning. Many spend their entire lives trying to find this and never do. As Christians, we understand our purpose in life.

  • We know where we came from – We were made by God Himself. The psalmist wrote, “Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Not only were we made by God but we were made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). As Paul explained to the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens, everyone can trace their origin back to God’s work in creation: “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).
  • We know why we are here – We are here simply because it is God’s will for us to be here. John described the praise given to the Lord in heaven: “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11). He wanted “a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). This is why we have been placed on this earth.
  • We know what we are to be doing – While many wonder what they are to be doing with their lives, Christians know this already. Our purpose is to fear God and obey Him: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Everything we do is to be done in His name (Colossians 3:17).
  • We know where we are going – Jesus told His apostles that He was going “to prepare a place” for them (John 14:2). The “way” they were to go in order to receive this reward was through Christ. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). However, this reward in heaven with the Lord was not just for the apostles – it is for all those who will seek Him by faith (Hebrews 11:6). Paul told Timothy, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). As we follow Christ, we can have confidence in our journey to heaven.

Christians Have a Community

Humans are social creatures. Even the most introverted among us need to feel a sense of belonging in some way. We have this as Christians.

  • Brethren who love one another – Jesus taught that love would be a defining characteristic of His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). This love is “the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14), holding us together.
  • Brethren who encourage and help one another – Because of the potential danger of developing “an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God,” the Hebrew writer said that we are to “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called, ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13). In addition to this spiritual encouragement, our brethren are able to provide help in other ways as well. Paul wrote, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). As members of the same body, we are to be there for our brethren to care for one another and sympathize with one another (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).
  • Yet this does not mean our community is perfect – Unfortunately, there will be times when our brethren let us down. The New Testament is filled with examples of Christians acting in a way that would be discouraging to their brethren (Acts 9:26; 13:13; 15:36-39; Galatians 2:11-13; 2 Timothy 4:10, 16). However, this happens simply because no one is perfect (Romans 3:23). So while the community we have as believers is important and valuable, we need to understand this reality as well so that we do not have an unrealistic expectation of those who are in the church.
  • We have a “like precious faith (2 Peter 1:1, KJV) – Because of this, despite the fact that we may fall short of the ideal from time to time, we strive for unity. Paul wrote, “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). We share a common faith in Christ; therefore, we are to work to maintain unity according to His teachings as we build up one another (Ephesians 4:16).

Christians Have Jesus

Christians are followers of Christ Jesus. He is the reason why we became Christians in the first place. What is it about Jesus that makes it worthwhile to be a Christian?

  • He was the one who was willing to leave heaven for us – Paul cited Jesus as an example of sacrifice for His willingness to come to earth: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He did not just leave heaven for the riches of earth – which would still be a sacrifice – He left heaven for poverty on earth. Paul explained this to the Philippians: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7). Though He was equal with the Father (John 5:19; 10:30; Colossians 2:9), Jesus was willing to come to earth as a servant.
  • He was the one who was willing to suffer death on the cross for us – Not only did Jesus leave the riches of heaven for poverty and the form of a servant here, He was also “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Not only that, but He did this willingly. He said, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:17-18). Furthermore, He died on the cross for us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8). In other words, His sacrifice for us was totally undeserved. Yet He was willing to suffer a horrible death on the cross for us.
  • He is the one who is willing to call us brethren – In speaking of Jesus, the Hebrew writer said, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for this reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). While He was here on the earth, He compared His earthly mother and brothers with those who were His disciples: “Someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’ But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:47-50). We can be counted as His brethren if we do the will of God.
  • He is the one who is returning to bring us with Him to heaven – As we have already noted, He said was going back to the Father “to prepare a place” for us and will one day “come again and receive [us] to [Himself], that where [He is], there [we] may be also” (John 14:2-3). Paul explained what will happen when He comes again: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). He then added, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Conclusion

Everyone looks for a reason for hope, a sense of purpose, and a community where they belong. Christians have this (hope, purpose, and community), only we have them better than we would in the world.

Not only is our hope, purpose, and community better, we also have something more. We have Jesus. Sadly, many do not understand the benefits of being a disciple. Yet there is no better thing we can be than a Christian.


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