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Title: The Christian And Character_2
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Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. It is actually a product of what the individual was exposed to, mostly from birth. The environment of growth is the most prominent factor that moulds the character of an individual as those around, like parents and siblings, are the first regular contact of the individual with character affecting factors. The what, why and how of all they say and do becomes the standard with which the individual determines what is right and wrong. This continues until friends begin to come in with their own standards, also the product of the environment that they grew up in. The character displayed at this stage will be dependent on who was able to influence the other. Ability of the individual to retain some confidence in what he/she was moulded into, which in itself is part of the character moulding process, will determine the character of the individual at this stage of life. However, irrespective of who is influencing who, the character of the individual when he or she is being assessed by others will be determined by all these influences, either familial of peers. The nature of these influencers will then determine what character will be on display by the individual when the decision to accept Christ as saviour is made .
The act of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior immediately provides for the individual to receive forgiveness for transgressions and salvation from its wages, which would have been spiritual death and loss of access to the kingdom of God. This is an instant action as long as the decision was sincere and genuine. What will not change instantly is the mental and moral qualities of the individual especially, if the background before accepting Christ as Lord and saviour was never Christian in nature. This is because it will require a deliberate process of replacing the thinking of the individual from what he/she used to be, to the new thinking, and like every process, it requires deliberate steps and time for that to happen.
On the three occasions when people were either called Christians or were admitting to being almost converted to Christianity, preceding each occasion was a period of knowledge exposition and acceptance, which is usually referred to as teaching. Like every teaching, the aim is to replace whatever the individual has, with the new knowledge that comes with this new faith, especially with regards to approaching daily human events and interactions. Here is where the developmental process of the individual who has accepted the new faith begins to fail. Most Christians today did honestly confessed and accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, but have not yielded themselves to the process of renewal of their mental and moral beliefs, something that can happen only by the process of knowledge transfer and acceptance. The result are Christians who honestly profess Christianity but do not know the Christian way of approaching common challenges of life, thus fall back to the knowledge they possessed before their convertion. They have to use a knowledge and they can only use what they have.
Teaching remains a very important ministry that must remain active for proper growth of the new convert and by implication, the church of God. A Church that does not emphasise this, especially for its new converts, will continue to have confused membership, as being citizens of heaven does not stop them from having earthly challenges and without proper or adequate indoctrination, they will always fall back to non-Christian ways of resolving such challenges. Non-believers seeing these people in their non-Christ like reaction to earthly challenges will not be able to consider them as Christians knowing that the standard of Christ has not dropped and will not drop, so the claim of such an individual or group to being Christians become questionable.
There is no doubt that even amongst Christian groups, the jury is out in determining the sincerity of the claim of its membership to being Christians, a situation that is not helping the image of the church in any way.
This trend of breeding converted individuals with non-Christian character is bound to continue for as long as Christian groups are not deliberate in their attempts to, not just win souls, but change lives by changing the mentality or morals of individuals in the group. This will only happen when arrangements are made, not just for new converts but for supposedly old members to be properly taught and indoctrinated on Christian principles and life styles. The Bible is full of people who are old converts but their thinking remained in the state of their beliefs before conversion. They got converted but remained ineffective in their Christian life and like Apollos who until he was properly taught by the Christian couple, Priscilla and Aquila, was unknowingly putting the church into confusion (Acts 18:24-28), they are probably causing huge disaffection within the body of Christ.
Saul who became Paul was lucky, as part of his conversion package included a visit to Ananias who was to open his eyes to the new things through teaching, on what he required to grow in his new status as a Christian – Acts 9:6. Cornelius was also a devout worshipper but until he was properly taught on what to do by Simon Peter, he could not really live the life that qualified him to be called a Christian. It is not about what we call ourselves but about how the world through our character see us whether they agree with our faith or not. Can we members of Christian groups today justify with our character that we are worthy of being called Christian? It is a question that every one, who regards him/her self as such, should be honestly asking. In the meantime, it remains the responsibility of every Christian leadership to continue to provide a veritable platform for the acquisition of true knowledge that can grow its membership. May God help us all to display the right mentality and moral to justify our status as Christians in Jesus name. Amen.
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