Why are we Christians?
“To go to heaven and not go to hell,” you say.
Yes, those are the benefits of being a Christian. But why does God want us to be Christians? Is it solely to save us…or is there an even higher purpose?
Consider Christ’s Great Commission as recorded by Matthew:
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Did you notice that salvation is not mentioned at all in this account? Sure, salvation or a synonymous concept is mentioned in Mark’s account and Luke’s account…but not in Matthew’s. What is the focus of Matthew’s account?
“Go therefore and make disciples…”
“…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”
“Go therefore…” Literally in the original rendering, “As you are going…” In other words, “As you are going along, make disciples…”
Christians, as you go along your way in your daily lives, are you trying to make disciples of Jesus out of the people with whom you interact? If not, why not?
Consider what Peter said:
1 Peter 2:9-12 (ESV)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Exactly why does God tell us we are this “chosen race” and “holy nation” and “royal priesthood”? Why exactly are we “a people for his own possession”?
Answer: “…that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Specifically, the message that once we were not God’s people and had not received mercy, but now we are God’s people and have received mercy.
In other words, we are Christians for the specific purpose of sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness and mercy with others.
Look closer at Peter’s words. Why exactly are we to “abstain from the passions of the flesh” and “keep (our) conduct among the Gentiles (what he likely means are non-Christians) honorable”?
Answer: “…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” In other words, when Jesus comes again they will glorify God.
But…why would non-Christians glorify God on the day of Judgment?
Answer: because they’re not non-Christians anymore. They’re Christians.
And why is that? Because of the difference you made. Your example. Your influence. You lived like Jesus wanted you to live around them, and you spoke like Jesus wanted you to speak around them…which means that instead of talking only about sports or politics or the kids or grandkids, you also shared the gospel plan of salvation with them and your Christ-like life influenced and motivated them to obey the gospel.
Now…the crucial question, once again. Christians, as you go about your life, are you trying to convert people to Christ? If not, why not?
Put another way, do you love the lost enough to share the gospel with them?
Do you love your church family enough to both edify them and help them grow by sharing the gospel with the lost?
Do you love your Lord Messiah enough to do what he told you to do?
Do you love your own soul enough to share the good news with others? I ask that last question only because of this:
Ezekiel 3:16-19 (ESV)
16 And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me:
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.
18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
Take note of “his blood I will require at your hand,” and now read this out of the New Testament:
Acts 20:26-27 (ESV)
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you,
27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
It’s something to think about, Christians…