Doing and Being are action words: verbs, meaning that an action is taking place, something is happening. When we who claim the name Christian Say we are Christians it means a totally separate thing than actively Being a Christian. Reading the word of God verses Doing what the word of God says is again two totally separate things, but equally the same as Saying you are a Christian and Being a Christian.
The Bible says in Matthew 7:24-25
“So everyone who hears these words of mine AND ACTS UPON THEM [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. 25 and when the rain fell, and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against the house it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock.”
The key here is “…AND ACTS UPON THEM.” “Acting upon them” is the catalyst for a spiritual bomb that a lot of Christians miss out on in their lives. You have the word by itself functioning in your life being highly potent and highly active, but without putting the word(s) into action; actively living the word, actively doing what the word says to do you miss out on the great explosion of spiritual: power, fruit, grace, mercy, blessing, ect that God intended and promised. Then we are left with the mere potential of what could and or might happen. This isn’t meant to be confused with the belief that works is what makes a person a Christian and allows entrance into heaven.
Faith and belief in Christ Jesus as the one and only Lord and savior is what allows entrance into heaven. Christian works (or what some people call the Christian thing to do) are supposed to be an identifiers of what a Christian is in this world, but somewhere along the way people came to think and then believe that the works that one does became grater and more important than the faith and name that one does them in. Martin Luther said,
“As works do not make a man a believer, so also they do not make him righteous, but as faith makes a man a believer and righteous, so faith does good works. Since, then, works justify no one; a man must be righteous before he does a good work.”
Freedom of A Christian
So to be very clear I’m not talking about works in the place of faith but in addition to it.
If you read the scriptures it shows that works done in faith were always meant to be something that went together hand in hand with faith in Jesus Christ (faith in the salvation, life after death eternal, the kingdom of heaven) as the primary thing and the reason. The works done in Christ name were meant to be an outpour of the first going together with the second not the second being greater than the first. If you look at the some of the miracles that Jesus performed (the man with leprosy Matthew 8:2-3, The woman that touched the hem of his robe Matthew 9:20-22, and my favorite the Canaanite woman’s daughter Matthew 15:22-28) the first and foremost thing that they presented to Jesus or Jesus brought into question was their faith AND THEN the miracle (work) was preformed.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9
“For it is by Grace you have be save, through faith and this not from yourself. It is the gift of God. 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The Amplified breaks it down to further clarity.
“For it is by free Grace (god unmerited favor) that you are saved. (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s Salvation) through [your] faith. This [salvation] is not of yourself [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving] buy it is the free gift of God; 9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the law’s demands], least any man should boast. [it is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]”
Basically there is NOTHING we could EVER do that would make us worthy enough to enter into heaven EXCEPT admitting that Jesus and Jesus alone is the only one that is truly worthy. Admitting that Jesus and Jesus alone did it all and by sacrificing himself in our place made us all worthy. If there was something that a man or woman could DO (except admitting that Jesus did it all) that could grant them access to heaven that would make Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection void and we would then be back under the law.
So what do I mean by a Doer of the word? Being a Christian rather than Saying you are Christian if nothing that would could do counts towards us getting into heaven?
The bible says in James 2:14-18 amp
“What is the use (profit) my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it] can such faith save his soul? 15 if a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day 16 and one of you says to him Goodbye! Keep yourself warm and well fed without giving him the necessities for the body what good does that do? 17 So also faith if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up) by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)”
We are Christ representatives on earth. We are emissaries of heaven and what I can only best describe as Christlikeness. As Christians we are to show all those that are not what is it to be a Christian; not just by our words but also with our actions. Our lives are to be the example; the walking, living, breathing example of the kingdom of heaven and what awaits them there. Our lives are to be the example to them; the walking, living, breathing example to them of the love that Jesus has shown and given to us. Not to say that we are Christ, but to show them what THEY CAN BE IN CHRIST and the love he also has for them.
The Bible says in Matthew 22:36-40 amp
“Teacher, which of the commandments is the greatest and most important? 37 And he replied to him. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great (most important, principle) and first commandment 39 AND you shall love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
What does that mean? Jesus says first and foremost, above all things LOVE GOD next LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU WOULD YOURSELF.
Two important things here I think the original Greek helps bring into focus. First: the word for neighbor in Greek is πλησίον plēsion (play-see'-on) which means near, close by, neighbor. Webster’s New world college dictionary defines a neighbor: 1 a person who lives near another, 2 a person, country, or thing situated near another. 3 a fellow human being, 4 any person
What I’m getting at is that God was and is telling us to love our neighbor just as we would love ourselves. (which incidentally is why I believe the world and the devil tries so hard to get people into states of depression, doubt, self loathing, self consciousness, and self hatred because if you don’t love yourself how could you possible love anyone else but this is another topic for another day.) Who then is our neighbor? Yes the person that lives next door or across the street but also the person standing next to us in line, the co-worker that we don’t like (or doesn’t like us), and the homeless person that we walk or drive by. The neighbor that we are to love as we love ourselves is basically anyone and everyone that has breath and lives. We are called to love our neighbors (anyone and everyone) as we love ourselves meaning if we ourselves are cold and we love ourselves we would make ourselves warm so we are to do that for those that we see are cold. If we are hungry and we love ourselves we go eat, we are called to do the same for those we see whom are hungry. The mind blowing part of this is that the same type of love we are to love god first with is the same type of love we are to love ourselves and our neighbors (anyone and everyone) with.
The word in Greek used in the scripture Matthew 22:36-40 for love is ἀγαπάω agapaō
(ag-ap-ah'-o) which in simple terms means love, but the Greeks had and have many different words for love and you could say that this one is the king of them. agapaō is more than just emotional love, more that just love that involves feeling. You could feel like doing something one moment and then not feel like doing it the next. agapaō includes the emotional and feeling love but is not limited to them and goes way beyond them. agapaō includes willful intent. In murder cases willful intent is what separates first degree murder from accidental man slaughter. agapaō includes the feeling you feel when you love Christ and you feel him love you back but it goes past that into the willful intent to love and obey Christ when you don’t feel like doing so. The decision to continue to love Christ when everything thing around you is trying to lead you in a direction that is outside of that love.
It’s sort of like being married for some time and for a whole month straight; every morning and every night you and your partner fight. At the end of that month, that person that you think is kind of hot comes on to you. They let you know that they would not turn you down if you decided to make a move, yet you decided to go home to whatever might await you. The decision to continue to love your partner in spite of whatever else may be is just the door to gate at the outer border of agapaō, and is the love that Christ not only requires, but commands us to love him with but also love ourselves and everyone else with.
As Christians we are not under the law but if there was a law for Christians it would be to learn how to make the decision to really love (agapaō) God and then once we are fully in the middle of agapaō land and know the terrain inside and out we are then to put it in our hearts and show it to the world. Some people might still say what does this have to do with being a Christian and a doer of the word? As Christians we are to reflect the love of Jesus and heaven into the world. What God has given and shown to us we are then to give and show to the world.
I like to think of the function of a Christian as a telescope. When a person is not a Christian and they hear all the things that people say about God, and heaven, and all those things can be like looking up into the night sky. It’s pretty but its vastness and complexity to our eyes and our minds confounds our understanding. This is where the Christian telescope comes in. The way a basic telescope works is by reflection and focus. You point the telescope at something in the sky and the light and image is shone into a tube and at the back of that tube is a mirror. From there the light and image is then reflected, magnified, and focused onto a smaller mirror which in turn is the image we see when we look into the hole. (just a side note that I think is very interesting and says a lot. The larger the first mirror is at the back of the tube the more light it can take in and reflect there by giving a better and more focused, clearer, and detailed image.)
When you do Christian works it is not and should never in anyway be to magnify yourself, but to show the world the love, grace, and mercy that God has shown to you. When you help the homeless it is to show how God helped you. When you give freely (without seeking something in return) it is to show how God freely (without seeking something in return) gave to you. We should think of Christianity as a verb. Being a Christian is not some sedentary thing, being a Christian is supposed to be an active on going process. A doer of the word does not mean that you have to go out and find someway to martyr yourself, nor does it mean that you go out and do something just so that you can say,
“Look at what I did.”
In fact the bible says in Matthew 6:1-4amp
“Take care not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by then; otherwise you will have no reward with and from your father who is in heaven.2 Thus, whenever you give to the poor do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they be recognized and honored and praised by MEN. Truly I tell you they have their reward in full.3 But when you give to charity do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.4 So that your deeds of Charity my be in secret and your father who sees in secret will reward you OPENLY”
A doer of the word, being a Christian means actively doing and being for the purpose of reflecting Christ into the world. When you donate do it because it is what Christ has put upon and into your heart to do, NOT because everyone else is doing or because it will show everyone how much of a good Christian you are; like the scripture says you will have already received your reward.
Whatever you do in Jesus’ name do it with Jesus in mind. Do what you do with the fact, always repeating in your mind that the Love Jesus has for you and the love you have for him you are to show and give, with whatever it is that you do and give, with agapaō love. The very same love you share in the loving of Christ you are to also share that with your neighbor: the person, the country, the whatever that is right next to you, the person that you can and can not see or touch. Think how much better the world would be if everyone that SAID they were a Christian actually practiced BEING a Christian. If everyone that read and believed in the words in the Bible were actually DOERS of the words they believed in. I think Christian and Christianity would then stop being a noun, stop being a state of mind or label and become what Jesus always meant it to be a VERB, and it all starts with you and I that claim the name.
©Christopher F. Brown 2010