My name is Helen. I’m a soccer playing, J-Crew wearing, minivan driving high school senior. But I don’t want to be known as anything other than a Christian. In Acts 13:22 God describes David as “a man after my own heart,” and that is exactly what I want to be: A woman after God’s own heart.
I’m a Christian because I choose to be. Obviously, my parents’ faith and that of my friends have great influence, but in the end it is my choice to be a Christian and pursue Jesus with my whole heart. There is one verse in particular that, to me, describes what a Christian does: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40).
While the Bible gives a clear description of how Christians should live, by loving one another, many view Christians as people with everything but love.
In an article in the Christian Post, a study revealed that 72% of unchurched adults (adults who hadn’t been to a church, synagogue or mosque in the previous six months) believed that “the church is full of hypocrites.” In general, people today do not have a positive view of Christians. As proven by the study, non-churchgoers see Christians as hypocrites and hard-core conservatives.
Many Christians have adopted the name brand of being a Christian, without taking their beliefs the necessary step further– to loving all. Loving doesn’t just refer to being nice. I think the verse “love your neighbor as yourself” includes treating that person like he is a dear friend or a beloved sibling. It means not gossiping about that person or spreading rumors about him. It means helping that person, giving him food if he is hungry and a jacket if he is cold.
Being a Christian is not just about attending church and yawning through sermons. Billy Sunday phrased it perfectly when he said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.” THat’s what has corrupted many people’s view of Christians: That they are Christians by name only and don’t actually “act” like Christians. THat view is partly true.
One study showed that “17% of adults claim to tithe, while 3% actually do so.” If Christians say one thing and do the other, then they are being hypocrites. However, there is more to Christianity than just tithing– service is a component also.
I love the verse found in James 2:18. “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” It’s not that works are needed to be a Christian, it’s that if you truly love God, doing good deeds and serving others is the obvious thing to do. If I seek to follow God’s commandments to love him and my neighbor as myself, why wouldn’t I help him?
Service is a major part of my personal journey as a Christian. It’s when I’m sweaty after a day of hard work in the sun that I feel closest to God. I can remember when I was in Uganda, and I had just spent five hours digging gardens for a family. My hands were raw and covered with popped blisters, I had sweat marks across my shirt, and I hadn’t showered in a week.
It was when I was walking back to the compound where I was staying, looking worse than I ever have, that I felt this unbreakable sense of being close to God, as if He was next to me as I walked back to the compound. Service is my way of loving my neighbor, be it my Christian family in Bombo, Uganda or Raleigh, North Carolina. James 1:27 is a great reminder of how and why to serve others. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I know modern day society has a poor view of Christians. I know they are seen as hypocritical and judgemental. But that can change if Christians choose to live by one verse in particular:
“Love your neighbor as yourself”–Matthew 22:40