What a Christian Is NOT (continued)
We do not appeal to you to join a movement. We do not invite youth, saying, "Here is something into which you can throw all your natural powers and youthful enthusiasm!" We would say: "God has a purpose: you are of concern to Him in relation to that purpose. But - you cannot even know or enter into that purpose until something has happened in you which has made you another person. In that purpose you will need much more than natural powers and youthful enthusiasm."
That brings us to the positive side -
What A Christian IS
In seeking to show what a Christian really is, we can do no better than take the case of one who not only was a great instance himself, but whose experience has been that of every true Christian since. We refer to the one who was addressed by a Roman "king" in the words at the head of this chapter - the Apostle Paul. While the method of his conversion may not be the usual or general one, the principles are always the same.
Here, then, are the first three principles and realities of a true Christian life.
1. "Who art Thou?" "I am Jesus."
The first thing is the inward realization that Jesus is (not was) a living Person.
The very first words of Paul when confronted by Christ were: "Who art Thou?" To which the answer came clear and strong - "I am Jesus!" It was a startling discovery, and Paul might well have exclaimed, "What, Jesus alive?" Jesus had been put to death, crucified. All that remained to do was to blot out the memory of Him and destroy what represented Him. To this work Paul (then Saul) had committed himself. We can hardly imagine, then, what a startling and paralyzing thing it was to be confronted with the fact that Jesus was not dead, but alive, and in glory. And not only with the fact, but with the Person Himself.
All that this implied and involved has been the teaching of many centuries since. But for those to whom these present lines are addressed, this can be resolved into a very simple matter. We begin our Christian life by an experience of this living reality. Not a Jesus of history, but a Jesus of heart experience. That He really is alive is the one thing which is open to be proved by us, and it is the most serious matter as to our eternal destiny. We have only to drop our traditions, our prejudices, our suspicions, our questions, our mental problems, and, quietly kneeling, speak to Him (although unseen) as we would speak to one whom we could see; telling Him out of the honesty of our heart what we would tell Him if we were face to face. The first step is definitely to speak to Him, as to a Person.
This is the way of a discovery. We learn from the New Testament that the Spirit of God is abroad in the world just to bring about this discovery - to make real that Jesus lives to save and be our very life. This wonderful realization, that Jesus lives, comes to the heart of every one who honestly turns and puts it to the test; and everything springs out of that.
There is only one way, really, of knowing Jesus, and that is by coming to Him. It may seem very unreal and foolish to say something to someone of whose existence you have no inward proof; but might this not be the same in other circumstances? You have heard of a physician. What you have heard makes you feel that he is just the man for your case. Will you say that you don't believe that there is such a person? Will you say that there is plenty of evidence available that he was killed some time ago? Will you go as far as going to his house and seeing the man spoken of, and then telling the man you you don't believe that he is a physician? If you will do this, then either your case is not very serious, or you are refusing to admit its seriousness. If you are really alive to your need, the very least that you will do will be to go the physician, tell him your trouble, and say: "I am advised that you can meet my need, and I ask you to do so. My coming to you represents an honest inquiry and committal, in spite of many doubts and questions."
My friend, Jesus Christ was ever ready to make the desired gesture to an approach like that. The discovery that Christ is a living reality is the first thing in the Christian life. This is a test as well as a testimony.
(continued with # 3)