There was once a certain man who was very poor. He really struggled to make ends meet in life. Putting food on the table and taking his children to school was a problem. It so happened that the man became sick for a long time and eventually died. What actually made his health deteriorate rapidly was because he could not afford the special treatment, medicine and food that he so required.
What was surprising at his funeral was the kind of casket that was bought for him; it was too beautiful and expensive too. At his funeral, the kind of food that was served, he never had it when he was alive. His friends and relatives came to sing, pray and preach at his funeral. It became clear that they were not only Christians, but they were rich too. Sadly, when the man was still alive they were never there for him. He struggled throughout all his life alone but when he died, they all came in their big cars to bury him.
After listening to the story, I began asking myself serious questions. Some of the questions I asked myself were: What does the Lord require from us as Christians? What does the Lord require from us as a white garment church member?
The heart is the dwelling place of God in the body (temple). The white garment is a cloth that denotes the holiness and purity of the heart that wears it. The garment we put on is the gospel to mankind itself because it preaches holiness; it is what differentiates us from the other people. It is a form of identification but it is not what God needs or demands from us.
Sadly, many people see themselves as holy and untouchable when they put on the garment, but their hearts are far from being holy. Yet, they worship the garment more than the laid down rules of God in the Bible. The white garment is now used to cover the shame of ungodliness.
God demands purity from his children and we can’t find the purity of God in our own human nature. Only Jesus introduces us to the idea of purity that is captured through this one statement: “Blessed are the pure in heart.” The heart matters than the white garment even though it is a form of identification that separates us from that of the world.
God is much more interested in our lifestyle than other things.
The Lord requires us to act justly, love and walk humbly before him. Putting all these together, we learn that God demands something very specific from you and me, the very person who brings the sacrifice and the worship. It is about our lives, our character and our behaviour. I am reminded of Romans 12:2 that says “. . . offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
It is not only about coming to the church every Sunday and putting on the snow-white garment; it is not about giving money to the church or ministering in the choir. We can do all of these things and still, God will not be happy with us. It is about the kind of life we live; justice, kindness and humility.
We can give all kinds of gifts to the church, but God is interested in the quality of our lives. We need to reconsider the way we are living our lives.
As white garment church members, what God demands from us is beyond the snow-white garment. The Bible questions: Who shall ascend into the hill of the lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? And the response was: He who has a clean hand and a pure heart” (Psalm 24: 3-4). It’s not he who has a snow-white garment.”
God demands Worship. Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37.
A body covered in the white garment but which does not have the true love of God at heart cannot see His glory. The garment represents holiness and those that would see His glory in the garment must come in holiness.
A person who puts on a white garment but whose heart is far from God, whose worship is poor, whose attitude and character are far from being holy, is as empty as an empty can. Unless the kingdom of God is sought by being a born again Christian who ardently does the work of faith and who is steadfast in the ways of the Lord, the white garment is not just enough. Bible says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.
What God desires is our heart, total commitment and consecration. Our garment has nothing whatsoever to do with serving God. The white garment is just an identity divinely designed and a good example of modest and decent dressing in God’s presence.
We must serve Him in true holiness, fear and reverence. The quality and cost of our garment are irrelevant when it comes to serving God. He requires a humble and meek spirit, which is ever submissive to His will, and totally obedient to His commandments no matter how inconvenient it may be for the flesh. We are called to worship Him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23.
There are certain attributes of a good Christian that we must imbibe. Writers on activechristianity.com list six characteristics of a true Christian that must be imbibed as:
It is a great misunderstanding to think that being a Christian is the same as being a so-called “pardoned sinner”, implying that he is still bound to continue in sin. In the verses below, we get a better understanding of what the will of God is for us, with regard to sin.
To commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought.
A Christian has a good conscience; he has put his past life in order; all his actions are in the light. All his sins are forgiven; he is grounded in God and has built his life on the Rock, which is Christ. He is immovable.
Do not be a mere meeting-goer
Being a Christian does not mean you are a religious “meeting-goer,” someone who goes to Christian meetings rather than to places of worldly.
The term “worldly” is used to describe anything that is purposed towards the world’s goals/ ideals /pursuits as opposed to that which is of the Spirit. A Christian is someone who brings his life into complete harmony with the Word of God and His will. He is righteous where others are unrighteous; he is patient where others are impatient, diligent where others are lazy, and exact where others are inexact. He speaks the truth boldly where others flatter, play the hypocrite and lie. He is meek, long-suffering. All these are traits of a true Christian.
A trait of a true Christian is that he is completely unselfish. It means that he starts thinking about the others’ needs, as God works it in his heart: what is good and practical for them and what would benefit them. Then, then, according to his ability, he helps them to obtain it.
Christianity is synonymous with serving and giving – giving of everything we have, both spiritual and earthly.
Be free from the spirit of the times
The spirit of the times is the evil spirit found in much of the world’s modern culture/attitudes. It is not constant and can vary from era to era and culture to culture, though not always obviously evil in itself.
A Christian is somebody that is not being influenced by the spirit of the times. A large number of people in the world are living in sin. They follow their passions and desires and few think it is wrong. There is a spirit behind them, and this spirit is called “the spirit of the times.” It is particularly difficult to resist this spirit. What is commonly known as “fashion” is representative of this spirit.
An ungodly person can be likened to a lifeless marionette. Whenever one power or another pull the strings, he has to jump and dance, whether he wants to or not. A Christian has Christ as his sole Lord and ruler. Then he does not obey other powers; he does not obey the fashions or the spirit of the times, even if everyone else does.
Being a Christian means that that person is righteous in all his affairs. Therefore, if he has stolen anything or committed some other act of unrighteousness, he will make restitution as soon as he becomes a Christian. If he is in debt, he will make every effort to pay it back. There is no way around it. In this respect, it does not help to appeal to the atonement. If he does not practice righteousness, he is not a Christian at all, and he will not enter the kingdom of God. “Everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:29.
A Christian, because of his progressive victory over his own lust and desires, starts to enjoy perfect rest in his heart and mind. His life, being purified by the help of his Saviour, becomes more and more irreproachable and blameless. No one can any longer point the finger at manifest sins such as outbursts of anger, irritation or any unrighteousness.
As the Christian appreciates the power of the Holy Spirit in his life more and more, he naturally becomes stronger and stronger by the same Spirit. The Christian can endure trials, discomfort, good report and evil report. This he does as he is confident that he serves a faithful Master. What was impossible for him in the past, he is now able to overcome. This is especially noticed by those that are themselves in need of overcoming.
Constantly develop yourself
However, we cannot expect to have perfect victory right away, which is why we read, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2.
Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance that a Christian is not content with suffering defeat, and so becomes slack and indifferent. He must not lose courage and give up in his fight against sin, because it takes time to become and to be an overcomer. He must continue to live in hope and faith, pressing on until he breaks through to a victorious life. This is all done by the assistance of and obedience to the Holy Spirit of God. It is especially blessed to be in a fellowship, communion with other Christians who are living the same life that you are.
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