This is in response to Jay Bauer’s letter of Aug. 12.
As a Christian, my goal is to present what true Christianity is and defend the name of Jesus, at least as far as I am able.
People choose whatever labels they want. In the case of Christianity, scripture makes clear that only those who truly know and love Jesus and follow His commandments (which in summation are to love God and love others) are His church. Those responsible for the atrocities Jay mentioned were/are not submitted to the teachings of Jesus. They cannot be considered Christian. Jesus said His disciples will be known by their love. The Bible teaches that there is a false church, Christians in name only who are in rebellion against Him and live as their own god.
From all of eternity, God desired to share His love with a family, children who would bear His image, partnering with Him in carrying out His will, dwelling together with Him in love for all eternity. True love must be a choice and mankind was created with free will. Tragically, mankind chose to reject God, the life He gives and the fellowship and partnership He offers to become independent and live according to his own desires. Innocence was lost, death and sin came into the world. God’s beautiful plan was interrupted, and it became necessary for Jesus to pay the price for our sin in order to make it possible for us to be united with God.
We can now choose to unite with Him through Christ. What He requires is a laying down of our lost and broken lives, that the life of the resurrected Christ would reign in us. This is what Christians call being “born again.” We pass from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to His Kingdom of Light. That salvation experience is the beginning of life in Him. We spend the rest of our lives here on earth learning to hear and obey, the goal of which is to grow in love and into full Christ-like stature. Christ in us is our source, the only source of life and love.
People can call themselves Christians but remain unwilling to truly give Jesus rulership of their lives. The Bible calls the true Church of Jesus Christ a “remnant,” because most will choose not to give Him their lives. But those who do find amazing joy and fulfillment in that place of true submission to a loving Creator. As they grow in Him, they begin to see beyond their own lives, beyond the very temporary and fleeting pleasures of this world, into eternity and the things of His eternal Kingdom, like pure love, joy, peace, faith, hope ... all things that are found in God alone.
Jay, history is full of people who truly loved God and mankind and laid down their lives for the betterment of others. They are our heroes in the faith, people who truly demonstrated the love of Christ. People called by His name, Christians.