I am constantly amazed at the fact that to be a Christian means so many different things to so many different people. Yet the Bible must surely be the basis for Christianity for, without it, there is no foundation for belief other than, perhaps, the shifting sands (or ‘Chinese whispers’!) of church tradition.
The Bible reveals the need for a personal relationship with God, made possible because of Cross. In other words, it is because of the sacrifice of Christ in our place – His sinless perfection exchanged for our sin-stained humanity. The Bible gives the ‘Good News’ of God’s offer of redemption, albeit one that we must choose to accept. It is not elitist or bigoted, but freely available to all!
But why is it so easy to then live in a way that cheapens God’s grace? Many people believe that they can live how they like and that God ought to accept them because they “aren’t that bad”. Grace is not a permissive cover-all pardon for living however we like. It requires of us a life of obedience to God in gratitude and service. Yet it also recognises that we earn not one scrap of credit for entry to Heaven. It is a gift of God, as we read in Ephesians 2:8-9, not of works by which we can boast.
Mother Teresa is often compared to Princess Diana (partly because they died within a week of each other). Her life of service and poverty is contrasted with Diana’s privilege and wealth. But, despite her good, even Mother Teresa could not gain access to Heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as her own Saviour and living in a relationship with God. But this relationship is what then allows God to speak through the pages of the Bible to inspire the sort of life-changing action that might be noticed as her good works (after all, faith without works is dead, according to James 2:17).
Living under Christ’s ‘Lordship’ means that I am obliged to submit in obedience to what He tells me He wants me to do, not to have Him rubber stamp what I want to do. And the protection of leaders in the church, to whom every Christian must be submitted, safeguards a growth process that sees our lives improve and develop for the glory of God and not of ourselves.
It’s a hard, but true saying: Jesus Christ is Lord of all, or else He is not Lord at all.