The Effects of the Christian Faith

Will I be different if I become a Christian?

The Bible says you will be a different person. Listen: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! “

These words might frighten you. Too often well-meaning people have given the wrong impression about what it means to be different. Close friendships from the past are dissolved, because the new Christians can no longer be exposed to the thinking or behavior of their old pagan friends.

Not long ago I asked a man about a common friend whom I had not heard from for a long time. He replied, “We never see or hear from them anymore. Each Friday night we used to have dinner together, but then they had a born-again experience, and they elected not to remain close friends any longer. At first we felt bad about this. They had been such close friends, but in retrospect, we believe this was the best decision. If that is what Christianity does for you, we are glad that we are not Christians.”

This is not what the Bible is talking about when it says, “In Christ we become new people.” Rather, the Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ would cause them to love these friends even more and show them how Christ can enrich their lives.

Christians experience God’s love in Christ. It is this love that shapes our lives. In II Corinthians 5:14f Paul tells us that the love of Christ compels us not to regard anyone from a worldly point of view. In Christ our love for people grows.

Is this not also true when we are loved by someone? A mother once told me about her son. He was going nowhere in life. Then he married Mary, and this mother said, “Mary’s love for Joe made him a different person.” Well, if a person can have that kind of influence on another person, think what can happen when he or she experiences Christ’s love. Let us be more specific in some differences we will experience in our lives when Christ is our Lord.

The telephone rings, and a person you have been wanting to call for some time asks you to have lunch with her. Your last meeting ended with an exchange of harsh words. Would this be a difficult lunch?

The first few minutes were a little chilly. You engage in small talk about what the kids were up to and what was new in your family’s life. Then your friend says, “Well, Jane. I felt compelled to call you. Our differences seemed to surface the last time we were together, and the anger in my soul became obvious. I want to express my regret. I am sorry. I love you and ask for your forgiveness. As a Christian, I have to get rid of this guilt. God has forgiven me, and I need to hear that you will forgive me for my unkind remarks.”

It is now your opportunity to bear your soul to Barbara. The conversation continues: “You do not know how often I have wanted to call and get our differences straightened out, but I did not have the courage. I was so thankful when I got your call and you asked for this meeting. Barbara, I was so childish, and to let these strong feelings linger in my soul made me very uncomfortable as a Christian. I ask you to forgive me.”

The meeting ends with such joy that both Jane and Barbara, who were very weight conscious, decide this occasion called for sharing a dessert.

This type of conversation likely would not have happened if at least one of them had not been a Christian. The love of Christ compelled them to get these matters settled. To carry ill will toward another person is sin.

Listen to some of these statements from people who have become new creatures in Christ:

Visiting with a complete stranger in a doctor’s office, a woman told me of the last few years of her life. First she lost a son in his 40s. A few months later her 51-year-old daughter died. Now they have no children. This was her comment: “I could never have gotten through those difficult times had God not given me the strength.” In Christ she was a new person.

Here is another one:

I had not seen Mary for a couple of years. The last time we were together, she introduced me to her fiancŽ. When I asked if she had married, Mary told me that she had broken off the relationship with this man. “I loved him and really wanted to marry him, but he was not a Christian. I knew the marriage would never work out.”

Yes, when Christ is our Lord, we are new people, and our lives show it, even when it is emotionally difficult.

Listen to these words: “And he (Christ) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (II Corinthians 5:15). The stronger Christ’s influence is in our lives, the more we say goodbye to self-centeredness.

“No longer do we regard one from a worldly point of view” (II Corinthians 5:16). We understand what a person can become in Christ. Just before Jesus was handed over to the Roman authorities, he must have been very disgusted with Peter. Here was a man who said he would never leave Jesus, yet in the next breath Peter claimed to have never known Him. However, Jesus saw what Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, could become. Less than two months after Peter denied Jesus, he stood in Jerusalem and confessed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Savior of the world. The disciples had become new persons in Christ.

What do you think of this statement: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his appeal through us” (I Corinthians 5:17). Commit your life to Jesus Christ and you become one of His witnesses. He will use you to bring the Gospel to others. If you are an unbeliever or a lukewarm Christian today, can you imagine yourself as a powerful witness for Christ? That will happen. It is a change in your life when Christ is Lord.

Do not expect these changes to come overnight. We never stop growing spiritually. You might say, “I have not experienced any great changes in my life, and I have always thought of myself as a Christian.”

Are you sure there are not changes in your life? What would you be like if Christ had not come into your life? Remember what Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi: “He who began the good work in your life will perform and perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

However, it is good for us to remember that, before God can begin His sanctifying work in us, He has to be a part of our lives. Justification comes first, and sanctification follows. The holy life is a fruit of our faith and a contributing factor to our salvation.

This is a basic doctrine of the Christian faith. It is expressed so well in the Augsburg Confession, Article 6: “Also they (our church) teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God.”

Will my life change if I become a Christian? Yes, it will. It will be a welcomed change, because then you will know what Christ meant when He said, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

I have not yet met a man or woman who says they are sorry they became a Christian. Rather, they state clearly that Christ makes all things new.