Ansell: The difference between being blessed and being Christian
I hear a lot of people who are, what I would call marginal Christians, say they are blessed. I know, I know, please don’t hate me for calling some people who claim to be Christians marginal. Some will think I’m “judging,” and I’m sorry, but Jesus said we will know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:16) and we know it’s His desire that we bear much fruit (John 15:8), so I’m just saying these people don’t have any visible fruit.
I will say something nice about these nominal Christians - they are typically quick to recognize what is good in their lives is from God. Scripture says, everything good comes from God (James 1:17), so I want to give credit where credit is due. I really admire how these folks appreciate what God is doing in their lives.
Here’s the problem. Scripture says its rains on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45), so there’s that to reconcile. What I’m saying is, God blesses everybody, and just because it rains on your lawn and it’s growing and green doesn’t mean God is doing something special for you because you are the world’s greatest Christian. In fact, it doesn’t mean you are a Christian at all.
I’m Baptist, and sometimes we get the bully beat down for the saying, “Once saved always saved.” Well, once you are saved you are always saved, but you do have to get the first part right. The first part is you have to as my pastor friend Marcus says, “know, know” Jesus. Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is MY shepherd.” The MY part is critical to establishing that initial relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior.
I was at a funeral the other day (I sometimes feel like a professional mourner, I’m a pastor, that's what I do). I was not preaching the service, nor was I in the pine box, so it was a win win, and I was glad to be there to support the family and offer any encouragement that I could. It was a great service, if you can say that, and the pastor that shared can conduct my service when the time comes. His words were perfect and a great blessing to me.
One of the passages the pastor used was Romans 12, and he referred to the deceased as a Romans 12 Christ-follower. Hallelujah! I was so glad to hear him brag about this person’s faith and service to the Lord. I go to a lot of funerals, and you don’t get to hear that very often (at least that’s my experience).
Romans 12 starting at verse 9 says, “Let your love be real. Hate what is not good and love what is good. Love others, honor others, work hard, serve the Lord energetically. Be confident in the Lord, be patient in hard times, be constant in prayer, help the church and be hospitable (my paraphrase).”
If they can say that about me when they finally put me in a pine box, I will be happy (so will Jesus). I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then. Join me? He asked me to ask you that.