The Core of Christianity

Are you radiant or radioactive?

The picture for this post may seem a bit over-the-top, and some may argue it promotes the exact opposite of what I wish to convey, but I hope you will come to understand its significance by the time you finish reading.

As Jesus sat at a well speaking with a Samaritan woman, He asked her for a drink.  When she resisted, even if only slightly, He proceeded to tell her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

He then added, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

In this passage, Jesus was speaking figuratively of a change that would happen within her if she accepted Him as the expected Messiah.

In fact, His intended meaning is clarified a few chapters later where Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

John clarifies the meaning of Jesus’ claim of living water by telling the reader He is speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit promised to followers of Jesus.

The Bible is clear regarding the effect of the Holy Spirit in a true follower of Jesus.  The byproduct is a changed life, one that exudes wholesome characteristics, or what the Bible describes as the fruit of the Spirit.

The most important of these characteristics is love.  Jesus specifically said that His followers would be identified by their love.

In another portion of scripture, Jesus offers an example of His followers being radiant lamps, putting their good works on display for all to see.

The underlying message of New Testament teaching is that Christians should be a radiant example of Jesus’ love and His offer of reconciliation with God.  When people see Christians, they should see joy and hope.

Thirsty people are drawn to water, just like people in darkness are typically drawn to a warm soft light.  I am sure that is why people were drawn to Jesus.  And, that is the type of influence Jesus would want us to have as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.

Unfortunately, we Christians are flawed – as all people are – and often fail miserably at our sole mission of love.  As a result, some people view the Christian message as volatile, caustic, radioactive, hypocritical poison.

In fact, some may accuse me of failing to radiate the love of God due to my post about the Pope and Muslims.  That’s unfortunate.

As evidenced by Jesus’ critique of the religious leaders of His day who were leading people in the wrong direction, sometimes correction is necessary (Matthew 23).

More to the point, correction can be a form of love.

Jesus’ harsh words were put into proper context immediately following His rebuke of the Jewish leaders.  His heart was broken over the rejection he faced in Jerusalem (v.37).

Jesus wasn’t rebuking the Jewish leaders out of malice or hatred.  He simply wanted them to realize who He is.  He still wants them to recognize Him today!

Jesus didn’t reject Israel, and neither does God the Father.  Jeremiah clearly describes a God who passionately loves the Israelites.

If I truly believe that Jesus is the only way to receive God’s free gift of reconciliation – and the only way to gain entry into Heaven, then, out of love, I MUST point out the error of people who are on the wrong path, yet I also must do it with love.

As true followers of Christ, we must also do our best to live lives that put the love of God on full display in other ways, such as, good works.  The Bible repeatedly gives the example of caring for the needs of orphans, widows, and the homeless.

We can all do better, and as we trust in God to change us by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, we will.

We are all flawed so we will fail, but we should always do our best to be radiant rather than radioactive.

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