In some parts of the country and the world, being a “Christian” is a label like “employee”: It’s simply something you do. Some would even say you’re born a Christian depending on the family in which you were raised. Faith is checked off the list of to-dos, right next to being on time for work and trying not to swear. But faith in Christ isn’t a title or a bragging right; it’s a life change. And it’s not always comfortable.
When Jesus called His disciples, they always had to give something up to follow Him. Following Christ is a change of lifestyle unlike anything else. Peter left his father’s business. Paul left his reputation. Being a Christian isn’t about sharing Bible verses or only dating other Christians; it’s about being set apart in a darkened world.
Jesus calls us to consecration, a term used to describe the “setting apart” of people for God’s purposes. We often think this means being persecuted for our faith, but it really means being different in the day-to-day living of ordinary life. It means dressing, talking and choosing differently from those around us—even when that makes us “uncool.”
God calls us to be holy because He is holy, and though He longs to have a relationship with us, interacting with sinful man would tarnish His purity. That’s why God sent Jesus: to bridge the gap between the divine and the human, making a way for us to be purified and have a relationship with Him. When Jesus died, His sacrifice covered our sinfulness so we could join hands with God in His heart for mankind. But in taking Jesus’s gift, we are given a pure identity that we must then live out in a sinful world. This pure identity demands a lifestyle consistent with who we are. Because we are made holy, we are called to holy lives.
Holy living is not legalism; it’s what God expects. Holiness only becomes legalism when we worship the rules instead of God Himself. For example, when my husband and I were dating, we chose to save our first kiss for our wedding day. We did this to uphold purity in our relationship and draw a clear boundary, since we had both struggled with lust in the past. If we became proud of saving our kiss—thinking it made us better than others, forgetting its purpose of helping us walk in purity—we would have been legalistic. Instead, we recognized that the kiss itself wasn’t the issue; holiness was.
If you’re a Christian, you are called to a lifestyle of holiness. This isn’t easy, but that’s why you have Christ! The reason we need to seek God daily in His Word is to know how to live holy lives in a confusing, evil world. If we never look into God’s Word or ask Him how to live, we will compromise our pure identities, tarnishing the name of Christ:
Being a Christian should change how you live. If it doesn’t, it’s time to evaluate what you think being a Christian really means.
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, [Jesus] said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
Following Christ will transform your actions. It will cause you to align your habits, words and desires with His holiness and truth. It is this truth that Paul called us to emulate when he said:
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
We love Christ because He first loved us. This love inspires us to align our behaviors with the honor due His name, the very name we bear when we say we are “Christians.” Let’s choose to honor Him today, not just in word, but in every part of our lives.