When God makes a Christian, He does something supernatural.
Now, that sentence, and virtually everything else I’m going to write here, will only make sense if you know what I’m using “a Christian” as shorthand for:
Someone who has been born again (or regenerated) by the Holy Spirit so that he now loves God, Jesus Christ, wants to serve and follow Him, and stands before God justified and with his name in the Book of Life.
There are other New Testament characteristics you could rightly use to describe an actual New Testament Christian, but actual New Testament Christian is what I’m going for. When I say, down below, that a Christian is a supernatural miracle and a beautiful creation, I am not referring to each of the tens of millions of people in our country who claim the title “Christian.” I can’t speak for people who claim that word but don’t love or follow or truly know Jesus Christ. I am referring to those who do.
So, in Ezekiel 11, God says that in order to make people who are truly His He must take human beings, remove their hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh so that they will really do His work.
It’s one of the many places in His Bible (the first two chapters of the missionary and apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus are another) where God makes it clear that only God can make you love God.
In our own, sinful state, in the spiritually dead skin and souls that we inherited from our biological father Adam, nobody seeks God. Left to our own devices, our own wills and abilities, we love idols and fake gods and hide from or hate the real one.
This is why the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah could say that the heart was deceitful, and why Jesus could say, about seven centuries later, that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him.
Only God can make a Christian. Only God can make us see His Gospel, His Cross, His Kingdom, and Himself as more beautiful than our XBoxes and tax returns and pornography. Only God can, in the words of 2 Timothy, grant repentance.
I’ll only see my sins as wicked, myself as a sinner, and Jesus as my Savior by God’s doing.
So when you look at a real Christian, somebody who has actually been adopted by God in Christ, you are looking at a miracle.
Not somebody who was smart enough to join a winning team.
I was in a room of people from our tiny little church here in Cincinnati last night. We were having a sort of game night. A party, I suppose. A dinner, celebration, send off. It was for one of our own who is heading back to India after almost a decade in America and two years with us. And what was different, what was amazing, what set set apart that room and that party from many others is a hard thing to quantify. But it’s real.
The Holy Spirit was dwelling in every human in that room.
That’s not something I can just conjure up.
I can’t just make people love Jesus Christ, love each other, spill over into forgiveness towards one another because of the great mercy they’ve received. I can’t just create in someone or draw out of someone the love, joy, peace, and patience the Holy Spirit of God gives, day by day and year by year, to Christians. Real Christians. Those men and women whom He’s brought to life.
The spiritually beating and God-loving hearts in that room last night were Spiritual (capital “S”) miracles that no human being can recreate.
And so there’s nothing like a Christian. Nothing and no one.
Does that mean all real, true Christians are kind?
Not all the time. The Spirit making people more like Jesus is a process.
Does that mean only real Christians are good people?
Technically, no one’s good according to Jesus. But the best good works God has prepared for humans are those He has prepared for His people. God uses real Christians to do really Christian things.
God beautifully adopts and saves wicked, rebellious sinners.
And then He takes those sinners He’s saved, washes them with His Word and His Spirit, and fashions them, slowly but constantly, forcefully but lovingly, into the sorts of human beings who always should have existed: God-worshipers. God-adorers. Christlike, sacrificial, self-forgetful, happy creatures who delight in the Words and ways of their Creator.
The rest of the world is filled with clamoring for attention, and greed that chases paper currency, and lusts that treat human bodies as though they could satisfy a longing meant for something better. The rest of the world is filled with darkness and death, but where the Spirit and His new children are there is light and life. It’s for any who will repent and have its warmth freely, received as a gift.
That room was filled with people who love Jesus. And as I watched them eat tacos and play charades like any other humans might do at such a party, I knew that appearances, quite often, aren’t the whole story.
I wasn’t surrounded by normal people.
There is no one like a Christian.