Becoming A Christian — Step 1

August 1, 2016 — Matthew 4:12–25

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)

What does it mean to be a Christian? Many people ask that question — even Christians! Many answers have been given. Some say, “Be good.” “Don’t do certain things,” others will add. “Take a stand against evils in society,” a third person may chime in.

Are these sufficient definitions of what it means to be a Christ-follower? Hardly! In fact, it is difficult to capture in a few words what it really means to be a Christian. Perhaps it would be helpful to begin our search for understanding what a Christian really is by looking to the Source and maybe a good place to begin is at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

The first words of Jesus’ recorded in the gospel of Matthew after Jesus had begun his earthly ministry are found in Matthew 4:17 — “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” So, where can we begin as followers of Christ? Repent — turn away from the kind of lives we were living apart from Christ; change directions; set our minds on what will draw us closer to God.

Implicit in Jesus’ words is also the idea of confession — that is, agreeing with God that you have not been living His way. You have, in fact, been living in opposition to Him. It also includes asking for His forgiveness for living contrary to His ways and thinking and doing things that have been damaging to you and to others.

Repentance is not a one time event. In fact, as long as we are on this earth, we will find ourselves needing to “change direction” from time to time when we stray from our Lord in what we do, think or say. We will need to repent, turn back to God, and confess that we have “blown it” and need His forgiveness and guidance again.

This is part of what it means to be a Christian — a true follower of Jesus Christ. This is not all it means to be His disciple. In fact, in Matthew’s fourth chapter we can discover two more aspects of following Jesus. But for now, think about what it means to repent. Is there anything that you need to repent of today? Go to the Lord in prayer right now, confess it to Him and seek His forgiveness. He will not only forgive you but will also redirect you to the path on which you should be.