We’ve all heard the accusation, “They don’t act like a Christian!”
Perhaps we’ve aimed it someone, or perhaps it’s been aimed at us. But what does it mean?
What people define Christian behavior to be is as varied as the human race; everyone has their own idea of what it means to act like a Christian.
The word Christian literally means little Christ, so in its very definition to act like a Christian means to act like Christ.
And He didn’t leave it up to interpretation.
He gave us His Word as a definition for what acting like a Christian really means. On top of that, He gave us His grace and power to carry it out.
Now, we will see today that we wont achieve this Christian behavior overnight….or even in a couple of years.
It takes time and patience – but day by day, as we grow in Him, we become more like Him!
8 Ways To Act Like a Christian
When a baby is born, we don’t immediately have expectations that the baby will act like an adult. We give the baby at least 18 years to begin displaying adult-like behavior.
And even then, our expectations are quite low.
Sometimes it takes more than 20 years for a baby to develop truly adult behavior.
We should have the same kind of grace and understanding for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Some will mature more quickly, some more slowly.
Some come to Christ with more baggage than we could imagine, and God has to do a lot of miraculous things in the heart for them to even reach the “baby stage”.
So, this post shouldn’t be used as a weapon against our brothers and sisters in Christ, or even as a measuring tool against another believer – to see how well they measure up.
This post is a measuring tool for us alone – and even then, do not let it discourage you.
God isn’t done with you yet. He’s not done with me yet. We still have a race to run – so let’s run it well!
1. Prepare for action
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
In the Greek “gird up the loins of your mind” uses imagery from Oriental customs when someone had to get somewhere quickly.
They’d gather up bottoms of their robes into their belt to free up their legs so they could run.
Peter is telling us to get rid of whatever it is that would prevent us from running this race of the Christian life well.
What is tripping you up?
What is holding you back?
Get rid of it, and prepare for action. You need to be able to focus on Christ, so get rid of the unnecessary distractions in your life.
2. Develop an appetite
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3
Have you ever gone on a diet, or found you were forced to change your eating habits?
As kids we love candy, chips, cookies, sugar cereal, and pretty much anything that comes from a package and has a million ingredients that start with some form of sugar.
But when mom put split pea soup on the table we suddenly lost our appetite.
It’s the same with the Christian life: when we were in the world, we developed an appetite for all kinds of “junk food” that have the potential to harm us spiritually.
Some things may not necessarily be bad, but may not be good for us in large quantities or daily consumption.
We have to develop an appetite for those things that will help us grow into a mature, stable Christian:
And Peter tells us to start with desiring the “milk of the word” so we will grow.
Join a Bible study, find accountability partners, and begin daily feeding on God’s Word because the more you do, the more you will want to!
3. Love one another
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4-8-9
Jesus gave us a clear sign that we are His followers, and that is if we have love for one another. John 13:35
This love exists in the family structure as well as in the body of Christ.
Wives and husbands lovingly submit to one another and train their children to behave in a loving, obedient manner toward elders and even their peers.
Brothers and sisters in Christ displaying love and grace for one another, giving each other the benefit of the doubt and maintaining love and honor for them in our hearts.
Churches honoring and striving for unity, not assuming one church or denomination is superior to another, but honoring each other despite our differences realizing that if we agree on the gospel then we can have rich fellowship.
This love is important.
It is why Paul dedicated an entire chapter to it in 1 Corinthians 13; it is why the fruit of the Spirit is love, from which grow all the other attributes of love. Galatians 5:22-23
It is why we see all throughout the letters in the New Testament an emphasis on love.
4. Reject the temptation to be a victim
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:12-16
If you have not yet faced rejection as a Christian, you will.
At some point, a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor….someone you consider a friend or loved one will reject you because you’re a Christian.
In multiple places throughout the gospels, Jesus told this would happen.
It is illustrated for us throughout the rest of the New Testament and Peter echoes Jesus’ words when he tells us to rejoice.
We are not victims when this happens.
The temptation is there to make every hill a hill to die on and every battle for our religious equality the war we want to engage in.
The temptation is there for us to play the victim card and let it offend and anger us that the word hates Christians so much.
But why is this a surprise?
Jesus said they would hate us.
He did not, however, say that our response should be aggression, demands for religious equality, and protests. Yes, there are times we need to take a stand – but not every opportunity we’re faced with should be one we ought to engage in.
We are not victims, we are partakers!
We are partners with Jesus in His suffering and that is our honor!
5. Be ready for the devil
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
When we got saved, the devil lost a prisoner.
What happens when a prisoner escapes a prison? A huge manhunt begins and they wont stop until they’ve captured the prisoner again and put him back where he belongs.
Why would it be any different with the devil.
But the devil doesn’t go out in riot gear with guns drawn and “FBI” in big, white letters on the back of his jacket.
He is much more camouflaged than that!
He hunts you down in the form of temptation that is so irresistible you can taste it!
Peter warns us that the devil is a predator and his #1 goal is to take you out. He will devour you; but you are not his victim.
You have the power to resist him!
He may be a lion, but you have God on your side and God is bigger and more powerful than this lion you’re up against!
And you’re not alone in this. In case you think that you are the only one battling temptation on this level – that is the enemy whispering in your ear.
“knowing that the same sufferings are experience by your brotherhood in the world.”
Christians all around the world are going through the same things you are, so don’t be discouraged, you will win this battle with Jesus by your side!
6. Be fruitful
“…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, o godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-8
Here’s the thing about fruit: It takes time to grow.
Like, a lot of time.
If you plant tomatoes in the early spring, but August you’ll have a whole bunch of tomatoes. It takes about 6 months to grow ripe tomatoes.
If you plant an apple tree, it takes many years.
Have you ever planted an apple seed? It takes about 10 years from the time a seed is planted and successfully germinated to begin bearing fruit.
A lot of stuff happens in those ten years.
A lot of care: water, fertilizer, transplanting, watching for disease, pests, and other things that threaten to kill the tree.
And we have to allow God to do all of these things in our lives. It can be painful at times and it takes a lot of focus and attention on our part, but if we give Him room to do His work and remain faithful, we will bear fruit!
7. Be discerning
“…that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,” 2 Peter 3:2
The book of 2 Peter is a warning to believers that in the last days there will be all kinds of people who will claim to be prophets and teachers, teaching things that contradict God’s Word.
And many people will follow them – this is what can be so confusing at times.
These false prophets and teachers may see legitimate because so many people follow them. They have huge social media followings, they pastor mega churches and hold huge meetings in giant coliseums.
But this is not the litmus test for a prophet or teacher….or pastor.
The litmus test is and will always be the Bible. This is why we must be “wise Bereans” and know the Word of God for ourselves, so that we can instantly spot those who don’t preach the Word of God….or a pure truth.
8. Remain faithful
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;” 2 Peter 3:14
Back to the illustration about diets…
How many times have you started a new diet…or maybe workout…and after 2-3 months (or achem…weeks) went back to eating the way you were eating before.
The workout DVD collects dust on the shelf and your popcorn bowl gets a workout of its own while you enjoy your Hallmark Movie binges each night in your yoga pants.
I may or may not be speaking from experience here.
We scroll through our Instagram feed and see the success pictures of the woman who was 250 pounds but shed 140 of them through faithful diet changes and exercise.
She was faithful – that’s why she’s a size 4 and we’re still grunting while trying to yank up our size 16 jeans.
It’s the same with the Christian life.
If we want to grow and mature, if we want to be further along in our Christian walk with Jesus, we need to start making those small changes today.
It doesn’t mean we have to start reading whole books of the Bible each quiet time and praying an hour each day.
But it does mean making spending time in the Word and praying; memorizing and meditating; fellowshipping with other Christians and becoming discipled needs to be a priority in our lives.
We need to remain faithful.
If we are faithful we will grow and daily become more and more like Jesus. It is years of faithfulness to Christ that produce deep, lasting results in our spiritual life.
There are no short cuts. There is no magic pill.
Just faithfully living for Jesus day by day, month by month, year, by year.