So many people are discouraged from the Christian journey because of a lack of understanding of HOW TO ENJOY THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
The thought of Christianity to so many is a picture of living in bondage or living a boring life void of enjoyment and earthly pleasures.
I must confess I felt the same way before I became a Christian. It was one of the reasons it took me some time before accepting Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord.
I never wanted to go into something that would prevent me from being happy as I felt I could not dress stylishly, attend or throw a party, hang out with friends, go to the movies, have a boyfriend or even have sex if I was a Christian.
I also didn’t like the fact that I would have to stop gossiping but hey! I was willing to give that one up if I could.
The truth is you can do all the things I’ve mentioned above asides gossiping AT THE RIGHT TIME. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 that there is a right time for everything.
God wants us to enjoy our life while we are here on earth carrying out His purpose.
I am aware that we are to set our mind on the things above and to consciously remember that we are on a journey as the world is not our final destination.
Setting our mind on the things above does not prevent us from enjoying our stay here on earth.
God has promised us a life filled with joy, peace and abundance here on earth. He wouldn’t promise what He doesn’t approve of.
The following are a few scriptures out of so many to show you God wants you to enjoy life as a Christian.
Ecclesiastes 3: 12,13 ‘’I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Psalm 16:11 ‘’You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand (NIV).
John 10:10 ‘’The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’’ (ESV).
IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT WOULD HELP YOU ENJOY THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
After accepting to follow Jesus, I truly wasn’t enjoying my life as a Christian. I found it boring, depressing and frustrating.
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to be saved, forgiven and accepted by God but I just didn’t enjoy what I thought was the lifestyle He wanted for me.
Not until I came to a good understanding and a constant application of the following factors I’m about to share with you, I struggled to enjoy my life as a Christian.
You need God’s grace and guidance to be able to understand and apply the following factors to your daily life appropriately.
These factors include:
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF DISCOVERY ON THE CHRISTIAN JOURNEY
Understanding who you are at the time you accept to follow Jesus and who you can become as you follow Him plays an important role in enjoying your life as a Christian.
Once you accept to follow Jesus, you immediately become righteous i.e. you attain such righteousness not by your works or deeds but through the blood of Jesus that was paid for your sins. (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Ephesians 2:8-9).
God wants us to come to Him just as we are, with our flaws and weaknesses. He knows that you are not perfect and He completely accepts you that way.
All you need to do is to acknowledge your flaws without guilt or shame and maintain a close relationship with God through prayers and studying His word.
As you continually fellowship with God, there would be a gradual transformation and renewal of your mind from your old ways to a new way which is God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for your life (See Romans 12:20).
I must point out that this change to your new ways is a gradual process that can only be achieved through the grace of God and not by your strength.
We cannot make these changes without the help of God; For he gives us the grace and the will power to make these changes.
Philippians 2:13 says,”For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”
Do not beat yourself up or give up on your Christian journey if you ever fall back to your old ways. All you need to do is to acknowledge you have sinned, ask God for forgiveness and His grace to live above that sin.
2. UNDERSTANDING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN HOLINESS AND LEGALISM
A lot of people confuse legalism for holiness but there is a clear difference between them.
Legalism is a long list of ‘’human-made’’ religious rules to follow as a Christian. Rules like not drinking, not going to parties, not wearing pretty clothes, not dressing stylishly or putting on makeup, not having tattoos, not putting on jewelry, not having a nice colorful hairstyle, etc. The lists of these rules are endless.
Legalism is a major reason for the division in the body of Christ. Different churches come up with different doctrines mostly based on legalism.
Legalism was the major cause of my frustration in my early years of being a Christian. It portrays righteousness as being attained by human efforts through adherence to those rules. It focuses on the wrath and judgment of God rather than His love and mercy.
Some of these rules have been misconstrued from the Bible while some are human or self-made rules that have now taken prominence over the Word of God.
Apostle Paul rebuked the church in Galatia for deserting the gospel of grace through Christ and turning to a different man-made gospel which is no gospel at all. (See Galatians 1:6-12).
Holiness has everything to do with our motive which is what God is concerned about. Holiness begins from the heart and comes from a place of love and desire to obey God after an encounter with Him.
Holiness has nothing to do with justifying our righteousness through human effort but it has everything to do with grace, love, and faith.
Like I said earlier, once we accept Jesus Christ, we are automatically made righteous through Him. Afterward, we get to encounter more and more of Him through fellowship. This is when and where we develop a desire out of love to do His will and have our minds renewed. We also receive the grace to effect these changes.
When you are doing the will of God, you are automatically doing everything to glorify Him; therefore your motives are right.
God doesn’t have a problem with having tattoos, dressing stylishly, going to parties, wearing makeup or putting on jewelry etc. as long as your motives for doing them are right.
Your motives would be wrong if you are dressing in a provocative manner where private parts are exposed, if you are getting drunk, if you go for wild and indecent parties, if you have tattoos, or do anything with an attempt to deliberately cause another to sin.
Your motives would also be wrong if you are doing the right things at the wrong time like having a sexual relationship outside marriage.
My belief is, we all have a personal and peculiar journey with Christ and he teaches us through the Holy Spirit His perfect will for our individual lives.
2.UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH, PASTORS AND CHRISTIAN LEADERS IN YOUR LIFE
The church, our pastors and other Christian leaders or mentors play an important role in us enjoying our lives as Christians.
I encourage everyone to make sure to consistently attend a good and true Bible-teaching church. Please ask God for His guidance while choosing a church to attend.
From the church, you will be exposed to good teachings of the Word of God. It is also a place to find a good support system, make friends and interact with like minds (believers).
The church is a place to engage in a good cause like helping people in need, going on evangelism where you share the love and Word of God to others.
The church is also a good place to find a spiritual mentor who is someone advanced in experience and has a good relationship with God. A mentor is someone who can closely guide, teach and admonish you as you journey with Christ.
We must ensure that the church or our spiritual leaders do not take the place of God in our lives. We must continue to have a personal relationship with God by consistently having our personal Bible study and prayer time and not solely relying on church services or meetings as the only time of encounter with God.
4. UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
1 Corinthians 15:33 says, ‘’Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good Character’’ (NIV).
We must be careful with the kind of people we associate with if we truly want to be happy as Christians.
Constantly being in the company of people who do not believe in God or people who encourage you to sin will rid you of your joy and peace. Keep away from such friends if not you will become frustrated and discouraged in no time.
Associate with like minds. Deliberately make friends with other Christians upon whom you can evidently see the joy of the Lord. Such people will expose you to know how to freely and joyfully serve God. They can serve as accountability partners and will be there to constantly encourage you when necessary.
I encourage everyone to strive to have a consistent personal relationship with God.
Know God for yourself by spending time studying His Word and not just through the words of your pastors or spiritual leaders.
Remember you are on a journey with many phases and the aim is not to attain perfection through your efforts or struggles but via the grace and mercy of God.
Submit yourself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as it is only through Him we can pursue Holiness and avoid the bondage of legalism. To serve God is to be free from the bondage of the law.
God truly wants us to be happy and enjoy our stay here on earth.