Could you prove you're a Christian?
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--A recent article in The New York Times discussed the difficulty facing some American-born Jews, now living in Israel, to prove the authenticity of their heritage. One young woman went with her fiancé to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to register to marry. This governmental court asked her to prove she was Jewish.
If a court of law asked you to prove you were a Christian, how would you do it?
Some might answer, "I'm a member of a church." The court could rightly ask, "How difficult is it for a non-Christian to join a church?"
There are some churches so anxious for someone to join that after a "three minute drill" during the invitation, a person can be welcomed into full fellowship. They are voted in and everything!
If being a member of a church proves you are a Christian, then why are so few church members choosing to worship Christ regularly?
Others appearing before the court might answer, "I've been baptized." Really? If you've been around a Christian church for any length of time, you can pick up enough church lingo to answer the questions correctly. Is baptism proof of Christianity or merely proof you got wet? Unless one lives in a non-Christian culture, baptism can become a rite of passage instead of a radical declaration of a commitment to Christ.
Then there's the genetic answer, "My parents were Christians so I must be one." The Bible says you become a Christian through personal acceptance of the Gospel, not by your parents' acceptance of the Gospel.
So where is the proof? How could I prove to a court that I am a Christian? The Bible's criteria of proof are your love for God and your love for others.
Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands." A person once challenged Jesus to identify the greatest commandment. Jesus answered in summary fashion by saying love God and neighbor.
The proof to the world of your Christianity is your unwavering love for God. Despite circumstances or trials, you love and trust God. When you don't see the "big picture," you trust God is guiding you to the glimmer of light at the end of an immense tunnel.
Your love for Jesus changes the Bible from a rulebook to a love letter. It turns worship from a noun into a verb, a day into a week.
When you surrender your life to Jesus, you begin to love others. You see the needs of others as more than physical and emotional, but spiritual. Then your love constrains you to meet that need.
An authentic walk with Christ allows you to look deep inside, to the Jesus in other people. Jesus said, "When you see someone hungry, thirsty or in need of clothes and you take care of the need, you take care of me."
If a court ever called on you to prove the authenticity of your faith, I think you should point the judge to the faithful hymn that says, "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love."
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention's evangelism & church growth team.