"Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" - John 6:29 (NIV).
This verse always gets me thinking. I have read it over and over and have come to the conclusion that this is the root or foundation of Christianity...the work of God, as John defined it.
The work of God that we do without working is the work that results in the Lord embracing us, taking us into His household and making us members of His great family - children of God.
In addition, there is no other way people may live in the Kingdom of God except by believing in Him at every turn; I mean at every turn.
When things get really tough, when push comes to shove, when one finds themselves between a rock and a hard place, I have seen many turning their hope towards some other things, things that are disgusting in the sight of the Lord!
All the other works that we do 'for God' can never amount to work before Him unless they spring from the work given in John 6:29 (NIV). Note: one can never be God's child through physical work, even though such work is important and has to be done.
So in everything, be sure that the main work is the foundation, with everything else being a 'building upon'.
The real question that one should ask themselves is, "Do I believe in the one God has sent?" You may be a member of a church, very active in every way, but you still need to ask yourself the question, "Is the work that I do in church founded on the work of God?" If it's not, then it's something else.
"I am the Lord your God. I created you and placed you on the earth. Your responsibility while on the earth is to worship me, because I am your Creator. You will, however, receive nothing from me - no material or other blessings. The life that I made available to you through my Son should be sufficient for you. Be sure to worship me and magnify my name as long as you live." - God
Let us assume that this is God's message to you.
Take a little time to meditate on it. After that, ask yourself the question, "Would I still attend church if this were the case?"
Every church-goer should find time for some serious self-introspection, time to take stock in the most honest of ways. I believe that worshipping God is serious business. I also believe that it is very easy for one to mistake whatever else they may be doing for worshipping.
It is of the utmost importance for every church-goer to be completely sure of their ground; to be able to tell where they stand exactly.
The mistake that some people make is to mistake church-going for worship. Some say, "I am a Christian." When you ask them why they say so, they reply, "Because I attend church."
The truth however, is that church-goers is a group of people comprised of Christians and non-Christians. Anybody can attend church. Some do so in the same way they attend a burial society meeting. In addition, some non-Christians may be so active in church to the extent of appearing like the cream of the saints!
Instead of seeking God, many church-goers are looking for things; they attend church for things. To them, God is somebody who gives out things; He is not their Lord.
Let us assume that there are no miracles, no financial blessings and no healing to be received in church services. How many would still attend church?
Don't you know that the devil has taken advantage of the people's love for such things to give them imitations from the depth of darkness? Don't you know that some people perform miracles of all sorts through magic, just to attract crowds, because they know that the crowds strive for such things?
"Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, you are looking for me...because you ate the loaves and had your fill" - John 6:26 (NIV).
Jesus was rebuking the crowd that had come to Him. He said something like, "I know you. I know your hearts. You look like you are seeking me, yet in reality you are looking for food to fill your stomachs." This is still happening. Many are looking just for material comforts of life. How cheap!
Jesus went on to teach them, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life" - John 6:27 (NIV).
After saying this, people began to wonder what kind of work they needed to do. "Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?" - John 6:28 (NIV). Good question.
Some people are very active in the work of the church or ministry. They run around to ensure everything is in order for the church service or for any other church programme. That's good, commendable; but even a non-Christian can also do the same! These activities should therefore be undertaken only within the context of the real work if God is to approve of them.
Listen to Jesus' response: "Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" - John 6:29 (NIV).
I love this. This is the real work, without which any other church-related activity loses meaning before God.
Those who have not believed remain condemned. One can still be condemned even as they run around with church business, just because they focused completely on such activities while forgetting the real work, i.e. believing in the one that God has sent - Jesus Christ!
The question is: have you believed in the one that God sent?Another is: what exactly do you seek to achieve by attending church; what are you looking for?
If you are looking for God, you will remain rooted even if there is no material or other blessings to be received. If you are looking for things, you you will leave in a huff the moment you realise there are no such things.
God should be worshipped because He is God. Things will definitely come as a result of one's relationship with Him. However, the person who is really going somewhere with God is one whose heart and eyes are on Him, not on things.
"How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?" - John 5:44 (NIV)
Praise can come either from men or from God. People will praise you; it's their choice and right to do so. People, even Christians, may also flatter you. It matters a lot how you handle the praise directed to you.
In the verse above, Jesus warned his audience against accepting praise from one another. What this means is: let not people's praise get to your heart (or head).
Allow people to praise you. Be grateful about that and thank them most sincerely. But let it not inflate your ego.
In the same verse, Jesus underscored the need for people to make an effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God. This is an important instruction.
Never waste your time trying to obtain the praise that comes from men; that won't do you any good. Instead, make every effort to obtain the praise that comes from God. Every step of the way, never worry yourself about how people perceive you; instead, be very concerned about how well you are walking with your God.
If God says "Yes", it does not matter who and how many people shout "No!".
My concern is that a number of Christians seem to desire the approval of men more than the approval of God. They sacrifice the will of God for men's praise. This needs to change. Jesus once talked about people who "loved praise from men more than praise from God" - John 12:43 (NIV).
Paul knew how best to walk with his Lord. Listen to what he said at one point: "We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else" - 1 Thessalonians 2:6 (NIV). Not from men; not even from you. That should be the attitude of the Christian.
"No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praiseis not from men, but from God" - Romans 2:29 (NIV). Such a Christian's praise is not from men, but from God. Glory to God!
Jesus went straight to the point. He said, "I do not acceptpraisefrom men" - John 5:41 (NIV).
If your heart should thunder at the sound of praise, may the praise be from God!
It's now time to examine yourself closely. Whose praise do you seek? Whose praise do you seek most? Whose praise tickles your ears?
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" - 3 John 1:4 (NIV).
No greater joy. Glory to God! This is how John's children (Christians) gave him the greatest joy...walking in the truth. This shows how important it is for Christians to always walk in the truth. It should be our number one priority, an indispensable passion; there indeed can't be an alternative top mission for us! If seeing his children walk in the truth gave John so much joy, how much more will it give joy to Christ to see Christians walking in His likeness! Do you desire to please God? If so, then there is no other way you could achieve this except by walking in the truth daily.
Somebody may say, "I want to walk in the truth but do not know what truth is." So did Pilate. "What is truth?" Pilate asked (see John 18:38, NIV).
Dictionary.com defines truth as "the true or actual state of a matter."
So when Christians walk in the truth, they are walking in the true or actual state of the matter.
Listen to this: "Jesus answered, 'Iamtheway andthetruthandthelife. No one comes totheFather except through me.'"- John 14:6 (NIV). Jesus is the truth. God is the truth. The Word of God is the truth. If you fellowship with God and His Son Jesus Christ, then you are walking in the truth. If you live according to the will and Word of God, then you are walking in the truth; you are walking in "the true or actual state of a matter." Meditate on this. Apply it to your life. It's vitally important.
"It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us." - 2 John 1:4 (NIV)