Being a Christian means following Christ
New year, new luck. Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, not all can tune into this. Many carry their old worries and cares over into the new year—and remain faithful to God in spite of them. Why? Because they look ahead with hope.
There is one thing that human beings need to know: they do not control everything. They can do a lot and achieve a lot, but not everything. Martin Luther wrote: “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.” He was right about it. Often things are beyond our control and are imposed on us from the outside, and often we live against our own wishes. Is it time to be fatalistic? No, on the contrary, those who promise to be faithful to Jesus will find support also and above all on bad days. It is only fair then that we remain faithful to Him.
The core elements of our faith in Christ are: following His example, preserving our love for Him also in hard times, wanting to serve, and keeping our promises—this is how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider defined it in his New Year’s message 2018.
The tried and tested Christian knows that when he falls on hard times, God is there. He does not abandon Him. God keeps on eye on him, cares for him, looks after him, and makes him strong. How? By reminding us of our future salvation, for example. Where would they be, the Christians, if they could not keep telling others about that which will one day come? Hope in faith is like an anchor in stormy waters. The promise of a better future is like a good pair of hiking boots in rough terrain.
Christ is the salvation of the world
That is why Christ came, so that we Christians can remind each other that He was and is and will return. That is why the divine services in the New Apostolic Church in the month of January invite everyone to think about “The salvation of the world”. This is the theme of the month. Jesus, whose birth we commemorated on Christmas and whose manifestation Christianity celebrates on 6 January, is not only the bringer of salvation but the personification of it. Anyone who has fellowship with Jesus Christ has salvation.
Following Christ requires courage
Now, salvation is not something that simply falls into anyone’s lap. While it is a gift that God has given mankind we still need to make an effort and exhibit certain characteristics such as the willingness to follow Christ. This has to be the determining element in the life of a Christian. Being a Christian and following Christ are inseparable, like two sides of a coin. Those who call themselves Christian are prepared to fight for their faith in everyday situations. Those who follow Christ are prepared to suffer with Him. Christians also prove themselves in patience and anticipate the return of Christ.
Forgiveness has to be learned
Salvation, this unparalleled gift of the triune God, is imparted especially through the forgiveness of sins, which Jesus Christ made possible through His sacrifice on the cross. Already during his mission on earth Jesus was a forgiver, and He still forgives us today. Our response to this forgiveness is love for Jesus. This manifests itself in that we remain faithful to Him, serve Him, and are prepared to forgive others because of Him.
January’s theme of salvation ends with a sermon on the miraculous feedings of the multitudes. Today Jesus feeds the people through the preaching of the gospel and the sacrament of Holy Communion. Jesus Christ, who is in heaven, becomes present in divine service in word and sacrament. The experience of Christ’s presence in divine service must, however, not restrict itself to the church service only. It must be revealed in our everyday life too and be testified of in word and deed by Christians. Let us give each other something to eat, namely of the food that satisfies spiritually.
Photo: Thomas Söllner / fotolia.de