A reader recently wrote that they “didn’t know any Christians doing all the things you write about”. They were referring to things like feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, the sick, orphans, and widows; demonstrating God’s love, peace and patience. All the things Jesus told us to do. That the whole of the comment was caustic and meant to discredit what I write about was not what troubled me. You get used to things like that pretty quickly as a writer. What deeply bothered me was the fact that this person didn’t know a single soul who was following the commands of Jesus. This stuff isn’t optional. Disciples of Jesus do what He told them to do.
Jesus said in John 15:8 that we prove to be His disciples by producing much fruit. The fruit He referred to was manifesting His Spirit in our lives. That means doing everything He commanded us to do. Before we get too carried away pointing our finger at those who aren’t producing fruit, we need to take an honest and critical look in the mirror. We all need to ask ourselves, “Am I producing fruit? Am I living a life that looks like Jesus?”
What are we doing to feed the hungry? How are we providing clean water to those without access to such a luxury? Are we sheltering the homeless? When did we last provide for the needs of the poor? How long has it been since we visited someone who was sick or in prison? Are we caring for the orphans, the widows, and the single mothers in our communities and around the world? Have we kept ourselves from conforming to the ways of our society and culture (Matthew 25:31-46; James 1:27)? We may not all have the a means or ability to go to where the hurting are, but most can at least give to organizations who are carrying out this mission, and all can pray for those who are in need.
In John 15, Jesus said that those who were His disciples would obey Him and produce results that were consistent with God’s character. Those whose lives did not demonstrate such fruit would not be part of Him and would be thrown into the fire. This should terrify us. This is not the easy Christianity so prevalently taught in Western cultures. It’s not the “pray once, be saved forever” theology many of us grew up hearing. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). If we love Jesus, if we truly believe He is our Savior and Lord, we will do what He tells us to do (John 14:15).
It’s time to ask ourselves if we are truly living in the image of God. Are we doing what He told us to do? Are we serious about following Him or are we content to stay in the easy – but false – “Christianity” that has been watered down and rendered irrelevant for the Kingdom of God. Jesus died so that we might live (John 3:16). He suffered to provide salvation to all who would believe, love, and follow Him. He has provided the way and marked the path. Will we follow Him? If we choose to do so, then obedience is not optional.