There is a big difference between being something, and doing something. It might be the difference between doing something as a hobby, and actually being someone who is something. For example, I may have farm animals (chickens) in my back yard, and feed them and collect the eggs, maintain their enclosure, but that doesn’t make me a farmer. I do some things associate with farmers (well, some types of farmers, anyway) but that isn’t the same as being a farmer. Because being a farmer isn’t just about what you do, its about how you think, what you think about, how you prioritise tasks, the things you value, the sort of things you give up in order to be a farmer.
And so it is with being a Christian.
Doing Christian things isn’t the same as being a Christian. Being a Christian requires you to do Christian things, but doing Christian things doesn’t make you Christian. And Christians need to understand this.
Because there is a big difference between going to church each – or most, or even some – weeks, putting money in the offering – or have a regular direct deposit – and being a Christian. And the difference is not about going through a check list and ticking the box on more things you do – a bible study group, reading your Bible, and so on.
Being a Christian is about what you take delight in, about what you prioritise, what you give up in order to follow Jesus, what your mind turns to and what you make decisions on the basis of.
Do you take delight in hearing the word of God on Sunday? Do you listen to what is said in the sermon as the Word of God is explained, delighting in the things you learn about God, thinking about them during the week, and giving thanks to God for his greatness and mercy? Or is what you do merely “go to church”?
Is what you do “read your Bible”? (Or perhaps just say that reading your Bible is important?) Or do you think about what God reveals in the Bible? Reflect on it as a way of talking to God in conversation with Him? Let it shape your life? Change in response to what you read, and how you reflect on it?
There is a big difference between doing nice things to or for others, and being loving. Between politeness on Sunday, and loving others through the week.
All of this may sound a little like things to do, like another list, but they are actually about the attitude you have towards the things you do. Are the things you do just actions, or are they a part of who you are? Do they shape you and define you, and guide your decisions and motivations through your whole life?
None of us are always being Christian. We still struggle with sin, self-focus and selfishness. So we all need to think about what we do and why, and be corrected by the Word of God, our Spirit guided conscience, and the other members of the Body of Christ (the Church). We need to constantly evaluate whether we have slipped into just doing, instead of being. Not to do more. But to turn our focus back to Jesus, and find our joy in Him.