"I am no longer going to hide my faith!"
"I want to experience a full relationship with Christ. I'm all in!"
"Something changed inside me, and I just had to tell people about it!"
Those statements are from people who took a huge step forward to enjoy intimacy and depth in their Christian life. How? They publicly proclaimed their relationship with Christ and moved from the sidelines to the game. They fully identified with Christ and by doing so entered a new level and commitment of their faith.
Many Christians have not scripturally identified with Christ in the ways that the Bible talks about, yet biblical identification with Christ is as significant as a marriage covenant. Did you know that? It would be like getting married but having no witnesses or not telling anyone. There may be a private commitment, but the commitment is made powerful and strong in taking it public. Too many believers are living a life of hidden commitment. But Jesus is not interested in hidden followers. In Mark, Jesus tells us:
"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of
His Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)
And in Matthew, Jesus tells us:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Crossing the sideline and becoming unashamedly identified with Jesus Christ is an essential step in enjoying and experiencing a deep relationship with God. If you haven't yet made a formal identification with Jesus Christ, you can do that starting today. Jesus tells us there are three disciplines of identification: baptism, communion, and witnessing.
Jesus tells us that baptism is one of the key marks of a Christian. In fact it's a command that he takes seriously.
"They will be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:18-20)
Baptism marks us as spiritually different, believers in the Triune God. It also symbolizes dying to our old life with all of its reactions and impulses, to a new life of living for God and his new way of living (Rom. 6:1-3). It is also a symbol of our calling out to God for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21). In taking part in baptism, one joins the company of believers throughout history who have placed their hope of heaven in the life and death of Jesus Christ. When we are baptized, God give us this identifying mark as a way to say that a person has moved past the curious stage in regards to Christ. Yes, there is controversy of how to baptize, when, age, etc., but the Bible makes it very clear that Christians are to be baptized. Jesus, the apostles, and the early church saw baptism as an essential discipline or step toward compliance of God's commands, and so should we. This is a once for all time discipline.
If you have never been baptized as an adult in water to mark your mature embrace of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, then reach out to your local church or a mature believer and take care to do this. If you have already been baptized, watching other baptisms is extremely refreshing and uplifting. I encourage you to watch them as often as you can.
This is a key reminder about the centrality of the death of Christ for our sins. Jesus tells us that we need to regularly take part in breaking the bread and drinking the juice (wine) as a proclamation that our interaction with God is based solely upon Christ's sacrifice for us. To move away from communion is to move away from the center of our faith, which is forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ's sacrifice (1 Cor. 10:16; Matt. 26:26-27).
Too often communion has become a dead ritual instead of a living encounter with Christ. But keep in mind that connection with God is only possible because of Christ's death for our sins, so it should be a time of great wonder and majesty, of reflection and blessing, of renewal and relationship. With focused spiritual and mental attention, you can keep communion from becoming mundane and routine. This is a weekly discipline.
When was the last time you participated in communion and reminded yourself that you are a sinner saved by grace? Move towards God by giving thanks for the things that He has done in your life, realizing that because of what Jesus did on the cross you are forgiven and beloved.
The third identifying mark of a Christian is witnessing, that is, being ready to tell anyone who asks what Christ has done for them (1 Peter 3:15). Jesus told the disciples right before he was taken to heaven that we would receive power to witness about him (Acts 1:8). It is one thing to be a Christian, but it is quite another to become an infectious agent for Christianity, yet that is what we are called to be. When we decide that we will be witnesses, a new level of the power of the Holy Spirit becomes operative in our lives. One teenager I talked to had been struggling with doubts about her faith, but she couldn't get past the evidence of Christ when she watched him invade someone's life. It made her faith stronger! Another young man proclaimed, "Somehow I was renewed by the experience of seeing another person touched and changed by my Jesus." Witnessing is a normal part of the Christian life. Be ready as the Holy Spirit prods you to speak or invite others to learn about what God has done in your life. This is a discipline to be done as often as you can to whomever God brings your way.
Consider whom you have told your faith story to and the truth about Christ. Tell God that you are willing to tell others what you know, even if you don't think you know very much. It's not up to you to force the message on others, but let God know that you are more than willing to share your experience.
When Christians open up their life to full identification with Christ, God changes them and their world. Just try it and see for yourself! My hope is that you will evaluate which of these areas of identification you need to focus on and start there. Let me know how it goes and how I can help!
I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead. In His service,
Get Your Spiritual Workout!
Spiritual Disciplines of a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N. is a how-to guide for practicing the spiritual disciplines. Each chapter has 4-5 "Spiritual Workouts" to work through in nine areas that result in a deepening of your faith and a stronger connection to God. This is an intensive training guide to Christian spirituality that every Christian should have. This book is definitely one of our best-sellers, so order your copy today either at our website www.ptlb.com or Amazon.com.