What It Means to Be a Christian
God’s Free Gift to You
It’s easy to get bogged down with all the bad things going on in the world. We often see pain and heartache come from acts of selfishness. We are left feeling empty from chasing after things that we think will make us happy, like material goods, relationships, or lifestyles. But these things only keep us happy for a moment.
God wants to give us something that will bring us an eternity of happiness – His love. He’s waiting for us to ask Him for help, and when we do, He will give us hope that there is something bigger to live for than this world around us. How freeing would it feel to put all our burdens in God’s hands and not have to worry anymore? You can!
“…There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” - Romans 3:10-12 (NIV)
When God created the universe, he made one man and one woman. God placed Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden to live peacefully in a perfect world. But they disobeyed God’s one rule for them and ate fruit from a forbidden tree. Satan had told them lies about the tree, and they chose to believe him.
We’re all like Adam and Eve. They may have been the first people to do something they knew God didn’t want them to, but every one of us has sinned, too. And it doesn’t matter what we’ve done; all sins are equal in God’s eyes. When Adam and Eve ate that fruit, the world was no longer a perfect place. Sin and suffering entered the world, and Satan has been able to tempt humans to act selfishly and recklessly ever since. This sinful nature imprisons us from being able to live in a perfect heaven and earth for eternity with God when we die.
“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” - John 14:6 (NLT)
Thankfully, God provided a way to break through this prison of wickedness we built around ourselves. About 4,000 years ago, God allowed His Son, Jesus, to come down from heaven to live a sinless human life and then be killed by men for claiming to be the Son of God. The death of the only perfect Man in all of history represented the death of all our sins. Because Jesus was blameless, His death paid the debt we deserved to pay for our sins. When Jesus miraculously rose from the grave and came back to life three days after He died, the walls of sin between us and God were torn down. Jesus buried all the bad things we’ve ever done so that God would see us the same way He sees His Son: perfect and worthy of His love.
Because Jesus paid for our sins, we are free to spend eternity with God when we die. And while we are living on earth, we don’t have to chase happiness in worldly things anymore; we can find our joy in our relationship with Jesus and sharing our excitement for eternity with others.
Accepting the Free Gift
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” - Acts 3:19 (NIV)
In order to spend eternal life with God, all we have to do is accept the free gift that God gave us – Jesus. We do this by talking to God through prayer. If we ask Him to forgive us for our past sins, thank Him for sending Jesus to free us from our debt, and tell Him that we are turning away from our old way of living to bring Him glory in all that we do, he hears us and accepts us as His children whose sins are all forgotten. Then we’ve begun a personal relationship with Him, and an embodiment of God called the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, to direct us and give us spiritual gifts like mercy and compassion that we can use to help other people.
Living Your New Life
He saved us, not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life. - Titus 3:5-7
After choosing to live for God and not for our own happiness, our priorities start to change. Instead of being concerned with finding ways to make ourselves feel good, we focus on spreading the freedom of eternal life to others, just like Jesus did. By reading the Bible we can learn more about God and how He wants us to live our lives as examples for others. By talking to God through prayer we can give Him our worries and build our trust in His plan for us. And by getting involved in a local church, we can grow relationships of encouragement with others. We can now live with the hope that, although this world is full of hurt, when we get to spend eternal life with God, heaven will be a flawless place without selfishness or heartache. Now that’s something to live for!
Although there will be difficult times in our lives, such as a loved one letting us down, financial worries, or consequences from our past actions, God promises us that He is always beside us – working things together for our good even when we can’t see it. There may be times we mess up and disobey God, but Jesus’ blood is powerful enough to cover all our future sins and the power of God’s unconditional love bestows everlasting mercy on us. We are saved by God’s grace alone and not by anything we can do to earn it.
Through works of grace, acts of justice, and proclaiming truth, Prison Fellowship Ministries is an expression of the church, bringing peace to a broken world.