The questions of “Who” and “What” are answered frequently, within the American church. Those are wonderful things to know. It is good to have an understanding of God the Father, the Creator of the universe; Jesus, the author of salvation, conqueror of sin; and the Holy Spirit, the one who empowers the Church. Without the “Who” and “What” of Christianity, there is no Gospel.
In our society, however, there is a distinction between those who believe in God and those who are disciples. This difference is not found in the Bible but is easily pointed by Christian and non-Christian alike in the way an individual lives. Specifically, in our culture, there is a big difference between somebody who is living for the Kingdom of God, and the individual who attends church, on Sunday.
If I am to evaluate the difference between a “believer” and a “disciple,” I believe it comes down to the “Why” of the Gospel. Why do we follow Jesus? Why, in spite of ourselves, do we try to become more like Him?
I am not sure how often this concept is explored in the Church and I know that you don’t have to think this deeply on the subject in order for you to believe that Jesus died and rose again. Understand, however, that the knowledge of God, what He’s done, did and will do, doesn’t save you. And I am of the opinion that people who merely attend church would experience repentance if they just explored the “Why” of the Gospel.
Why did God send Jesus to die for our sins? The elementary answer is that God loves us. It’s true. And if you’re reading this, you ought to know that one glorious truth. God loves you.
But why didn’t God smite us all? He’d done so before (see Genesis, Noah). He’s the Creator of the universe and it’s well within His right to do what He pleases with His creation. Much the same way an artist can choose to throw away, save or put it to use; God can make those choices as well. Yet, in spite of what His creation has become (and arguably is becoming), He didn’t throw us away. More than merely not throwing us away, He saved us. Beyond merely saving us, He puts us to work and uses us.
Now, I don’t claim to understand all of the Gospel. To try to comprehend grace is try to comprehend your own value in the wake of discovering that the universe is roughly 93 billion light years, large (and that’s only the observable parts). I am personally convinced that I will never fully understand in spite of (or because of) my personal experiences. What I have accepted, however, has dramatically changed who I am and the way I follow Jesus. It’s the kind of change, that paradigm shift, when a person says, “You know what? I’m done living life my own way and if I’m going to lose it to anyone it should be to the one who created me.”
Living for the Kingdom of God, and true repentance, comes when the Holy Spirit gives us a better understanding of why God loves us. When we learn why Jesus came, died and rose again. When we discover why the Holy Spirit lives in us and what that really means.
It is my hope that we will, one day, gloriously bask in the answer we receive. For the time being, however, I know what I am supposed to know and I am eternally grateful for the things He has shown me. And with these understandings, I am more excited about the things God has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do.