The Authentic Christian Life
By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
During the month of December we celebrate the coming of Christ and his birth on December 25th. Part of our Advent journey is to renew our commitment to living an authentic Christ-centered life. As we focus on the birth of Jesus, it is important to remember that God saw fit to have Jesus come to us as a baby. He was born in a stable. He was vulnerable and dependent upon his parents for care. He suffered the same aches and pains and discomfort that all babies experience.
God in his great wisdom chose to have Jesus come to us as a baby and grow up with the same problems and issues that all infants, children, and adults encounter. I think that God chose to do this so that Jesus would experience life as a human person. And by living life as one of us, he would develop a sensitivity for our unique problems and concerns. This is validated by Scripture which talks of Jesus experiencing grief, anger, pain, hunger, and temptation. We may attempt to minimize the suffering of Christ because he is the son of God, but his life, as portrayed in the Scriptures, clearly reveals a Christ with human qualities.
As we celebrate Advent and focus on the coming of Christ, it also is important to remember that Jesus came to give us hope and to establish a covenant with God where a loving relationship is the greatest gift. With the coming of Christ, the laws and obstacles of the Old Testament were replaced with a simple requirement to love God and love our neighbor. This is the real, authentic, message of Christmas. Christ has come to usher in a new era, a new covenant, where love and hope become our fundamental God-given gifts.
The life of Christ also illustrates the importance of being a doer as well as a believer. Authentic Christianity involves loving others. And in doing so, we are challenged to do good works in the name of God. For example, if our neighbor is hungry, we give them food. If they are naked, we give them clothing. If they are thirsty, we give them water. These acts are tangible, genuine, examples of a genuine Christmas spirit.
Living an authentic Christian life absolutely requires us to do something. The light of Christ is meant to be shared with others. It requires fellowship, giving, and worship. Christmas provides us a great opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ. What a great witness it is when others see us attending church. What a great message it is when others see us doing good and caring for others. What a great message it is when we remain steadfast in praising and worshiping a loving God. These are attributes of authentic Christianity. We joyfully celebrate Advent in a spirit of love and the birth of Christ.
If you want to hear more about God’s love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, come visit us at the Beagle UMC on December 5, 2022 at 10 a.m. or the Fontana UMC at 11 a.m. You will find that we an authentic Christ-centered church that loves God and values our neighbors.