Becoming a new Christian is typically a very exciting time for someone. They are on the brink of something totally new to them. The possibilities seem endless. Their smile is three times the normal size. They are awash in congratulations and hugs from fellow church members. Being told you are a new creation in Christ for new ears sounds utterly amazing. Then something changes.
The seasoned Christian knows from their own personal experience that while your freshly minted Christianity feels so crisp and clean, the enemy is right to work trying to undo it.
We’ve all heard the stories. Many of us have been there as well. Our new Christian friend departs from those who prayed with them and goes home all wide-eyed and eager to share with everyone the miraculous thing that has happened to them. Expecting the same excitement their fellow Christians showed, they pour out their souls on anyone within earshot. Much to their dismay, their confession of faith is either met with uninterested reactions or worse, bitter anger and resentment.
It can be heartbreaking to walk a new Christian through the rejection they all too often face when they tell others about their conversion of faith. Many of them look at their Christianity as simply coming home to Jesus. That isn’t untrue; we surely are. But we are also signed up to fight a war. That is the part that almost always gets missed in the “come as you are” speeches that precede the invitation to faith. It’s the realization that there is a battlefield before them that stuns new Christians. It’s our job as the Brethren to help them get acclimated. That, my friends, is discipleship.
Being A New Creation In Christ Is Not A One Time Event
When we ask Jesus into our hearts, our sins are forgiven. One and done; God sees us through the blood of Jesus. It’s a wonderful freedom that only those who have experienced it can feel. But that isn’t the end of the story with sin in our lives, is it? New Christians start in earnest to suddenly be good and godly. They want to look every bit the part of their newfound faith. The problem with it is this behavior is usually done out of a little bit of compulsion and a lot of emotion and self-will. When you want to rely on yourself to be godly, you will quickly find it’s not even possible. When self-will fails to keep someone good, discouragement settles in.
Our responsibility as seasoned Christians is to help them pick up their chins and learn that the path toward God is not up to them alone. God is the only one who can make it happen. Just like our faith is a gift, so is godliness. The hard part to understand is this is no event. It’s a winding road.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know you’ve probably read this and thought, “But if it is up to God then why does it say I have to make every effort to do all these things?” Stop right there. Go back to verse 5 again. Goodness is one thing. That is a purposeful behavior change. You decide to focus on it but you can’t stay here or you will just get discouraged. Without the second item, you will fail. That second part is knowledge. That is where God comes in. Knowledge. Where does the knowledge come from? God’s word.
Studying God’s word is imperative to the Christian walk. In fact, it’s everything. Without knowledge, we don’t progress on this road to godliness. For lack of knowledge, many forget why being a Christian is so important in the first place. We never get to know God and His purpose for our lives if we are not in His word daily. There is so much to lose by not picking up our Bibles and getting to know what He has to say to us to live a Godly life.
When we become knowledgeable, we get convicted. It is in the daily practice of the repentance of sin that we can stay away from it. Self-control is all about keeping a spirit of repentance. Repentance is the key to growth in the LORD. If you want your new Christian friends to stick around and change, you need to get them into God’s word on the regular.
The Enemy Wants To Destroy What God Calls Redeemed
We should be always helping our new Christian friend get into God’s word. When he or she responds, they will find new freedom in learning about God. They can overcome serious challenges and they will feel great. That is until the enemy starts sniffing around. He can smell new Christians from a mile away. He waits for them to feel terrific and full of accomplishment. That is why he pounces. He knows that a new Christian who feels full of their own efforts is easy pickings. Self-control is a Godly gift for sure. It is in remembering that is a gift and not our own efforts that are crucial to keeping it.
When the enemy comes around, perseverance is the next gift God needs to give us, but only if we are willing to receive it. Perseverance involves pain and self-denial. Our hearts cry out against these things. The enemy knows this and presses in. A new Christian, or any Christian, who does not press into God in times like this will turn to whatever the enemy waves in front of them. Don’t let that happen to your new Christian friend. Being a new creation in Christ is never more evident when we get through the perseverance stage of a trial.
What comes after that? Godliness! James 1:1-12 illustrates this so beautifully. There is much to gain in perseverance and God rewards us with wisdom and strength for hanging in there. Help your new Christian friend realize they really are a New Creation in Christ by pointing them back to the Bible and praying with them to persevere through trial. You’ll both be encouraged and grow from doing it.
The great commission is the duty of everyone called to receive Jesus. We seek Him first, then we share it with others. For those who stay close to the LORD, sharing Jesus is something they won’t be able to help but doing! The joy of the LORD is our strength.
Share your faith and let others experience what you have. It’s not just our job, but it’s where the blessings are seen in vivid detail. First, you become a New Creation in Christ, then you get to see others come along from your conversion. He is the God of multiplication. I pray you will see it for yourself as well.