As odd as it may sound – Jesus never asked anyone if they wanted to be a “Christian”. No, His invitation was simply “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Those that accepted His invitation where known as Disciples. These Disciples shared five common characteristics that we at FreshStart like to refer to as being in the river.
Are you in the R.I.V.E.R.?
Recognize that Jesus is the Christ and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Every Disciple must personally trust Jesus’ finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. That Gods means for reconciling the world to Him was Jesus and Jesus’ means for reconciling people to Him is us – His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:19) From that the natural outflow is being in the river.
Being intentional with our gifts, our time, our talents, while having a position of obedience, heeding His commands (John 14:15). Far to often we fall into the trap of thinking that our faith is passive – that our responsibility ends after we’ve recited a prayer or filled out a commitment card. Jesus spoke of living an abundant useful Kingdom life and this is anything but passive. It requires an active pursuit of knowing God, loving God, serving God and glorifying God – it’s active and alive, never stagnant. When we are intentional our lives are transformed and we begin to see a love and a power that exudes beyond ourselves.
Vulnerable before God and others, we will not be able to worship with authenticity until we are able to put down our masks and be real before God, our fellow man, and ourselves. If pretense is an antonym of vulnerability we can begin to understand why Jesus cursed a fig tree on His way to Jerusalem. This was a lesson on pretense, the tree gave the appearance of being good for fruit, but as Jesus approached He saw that it was only a façade, the fig tree only looked good on the outside. In James 5:16, James also instructs us that when we confess to each other, that it’s at this point that healing can occur.
Enlist In the body of Christ. Scripture defines the church as a community of people committed to Jesus – that’s right the church is people. Jesus instituted His church in order for you to be loved, taught, and served by His people. Jesus modeled this by surrounding Himself with a community of twelve men. At FreshStart this is best expressed and experienced in our Sunday worship services and in LIFE 2:42 groups that meet throughout the week. We believe that the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth (discipleship), meaningful relationships, and a powerful prayer life can be accomplished by enlisting in His body – the Church. (Matthew 18:20)
Reciprocate the same love that Christ bestowed upon you to others. Jesus tells us that as the world looks for proof, the world should be able to look no further than to us as we love each other just the same as He loved us (John 13:34-35). Jesus was asked a very poignant question about what the greatest commandment was, His response was that we should love our God and He further elaborated that the second commandment was equally important, that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.