What do you think it means to be a Christian?
Christianity is very different from every other religion on earth. Do you know what a religion is? A religion is a whole big organized list of things that you believe and a whole big organized list of things to do because you believe them. Usually when we use the word religion we are talking about what we believe about God or about how to be good enough to go to heaven. And every religion except Christianity says that there is a list of things that you have to do to go to heaven. Things you have to do to make God happy and to earn his forgiveness.
But Christianity is very different. The prophets in the Old Testament called Christianity a New Covenant. The Old Covenant was a religion – a list of things to do to get to God and to earn his blessing. Ten Commandments to obey in order to please God. But the Old Covenant could never be obeyed, and we could never earn our way to God or to heaven. Why? Because we are full of sin in our hearts.
And so God in his great love for us gave us the New Covenant. And with it he gave us much more than a list of rules to obey. He gave us a brand new promise. He gave us himself. He gave us his own Holy Spirit to live inside us and to change us so that we could finally know that we are loved and so that we could love others like he does.
Here’s how the prophet Ezekiel explains the New Covenant:
Ezekiel 36:26-27. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
You see, Christianity isn’t really a religion at all. It’s a relationship. A very close relationship with God. So close that he lives inside of you and you live inside of him. I know this is hard to understand, but it’s true – God lives inside of us! When we trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for us, and his resurrection from the dead for us, the Bible says that we too die on the cross and come back to life with Jesus.
And now Jesus lives inside of us! He controls our heart. He controls our wants and our love. When we trust that God loves us through Jesus, he gives us the Spirit of Jesus himself to replace our old “heart of stone” with a brand new “heart of flesh.” Now we don’t have to change ourselves, God does it all. God changes us with his grace and love. And all we have to do is trust our savior Jesus.
Because of Jesus I have a new heart and I don’t have to earn my way to heaven.
With Jesus I can trust my new heart that is loved by God and loves God and others.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Talk with your children about how the Holy Spirit gives us the desires of Jesus himself. Have your kids list some things that they desire/want and ask them to decide if it is a “Jesus-desire” or a “self-desire.”
Because you died for me and rose again, and because I died with you and rose again, I can have your Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in my heart. Wow!
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