So…you’re brand new, excited about Jesus, life has changed, now what? When you acknowledged Jesus, asked for forgiveness and dedicated your life to him, you became a disciple. What does that mean? The Amplified Bible sums it up well (my paraphrase of the emphasis in Mark 2:14 when describing the interaction between Jesus and Matthew), when you pray that sinners prayer your spirit commits to accepting Jesus as your Master and teacher (also called Lord) and walking the same path of life He walked all the while believing and trusting in Jesus and following his example. Discipleship never ends, not in this lifetime. It is a long journey, a path that I argue, requires running, not walking.
I have an authoritative back up for my argument. Paul says, in Hebrews 12:1 (MSG), “Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost site of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.” First, keep your clothes on! Strip yourself of your old life. And don’t look back. You died. Now Christ lives in you. Your first priority as a new Christian is to jump into this new life in Christ and run. Get to know who your savior is. How do you do that? Get a Bible and read it. Read it to know who God is, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Get into community, join a small group (home group, Bible Study). Attend a life giving church that urges you to grow, that challenges you to be all you can be in your new life, and brings you good (that is how you know it is life giving, it brings you good! Because all good things come from God). The Christian life is going to make you feel like it all goes by really fast because the truth is, it is going by really fast. RUN!
More practically, growing up into your new life is going to prevent you from loosing heart (2 Corinthians 4). What you heard and felt when you came to know Jesus is exciting but what happens when you surrender and commit is that you become a part of a war. A war for your fruitful life in Christ. I have heard a lot of stories and witnessed first hand the things that cause new Christians to give up quickly, become fruitless (simply put: that nothing good comes out of your new found faith beyond your salvation experience), and wither away (completely give up the Christian life altogether). To endure this race, you must learn that the battle you are in is God’s battle with Satan, not your battle, this is God’s battle. Yes, Satan is real and the quicker you understand that there is a spiritual force trying to keep you from experiencing the full life of a Christian, the better (See Ephesians 6 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-4). I have heard of people having demonic dreams after they have been baptized and becoming deeply afraid of returning to church, seen people suffer a deep offense (Luke 17:1, often comprised of rejection from mature Christians, being offended at a sermon, things that cause us to turn away from what God has for us because we don’t like how we are treated or what we are hearing…this is all the voice of Satan), and life circumstances (John 16:33) that seem like God isn’t with us or for us. Knowing the truth of who God is and that He is always good is a security you need for a lifetime of Christianity.
I urge you dear friend, engage fully in this new life. If you are having dreams that scare you, tell someone in your church. The quicker you tell someone the faster you will learn what this is and how to handle it. Don’t allow other people to steal your joy (i.e. don’t get offended). Allow others to speak into your life but always check it with the Holy Spirit. Not every piece of advice is solid and Godly and conviction should be coming from the Holy Spirit, not people. Don’t pick up someone else’s problem. The sooner you protect your heart from offense, the more you will thrive. And thirdly, and something I had to learn the hard way, there will be trouble in your life (John 16:33). Christians suffer from hardship just like anyone else. The beautiful thing is that you aren’t in these circumstances alone. You now have a great defender, the Lord Jesus who has already declared you victorious because of his obedience on the Cross, you have a comforter who is the Holy Spirit, you have a God who is always with you, whose love for you is endless and whose power is greater than any circumstance you could ever be in.
Dearest new Christian, be joyful in your new life. Nothing can take it away from you. Be excited and run fast because it is true, the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16) and the world needs Jesus. There are people who need your story, your revelation, your joy. Always choose Jesus because choosing the other side or sitting on the fence is choosing the opposite (Revelation 3:15-16). It all sits in your lap, will you run? Will you walk? Will you lie down? No matter what, you are saved. Now you get to choose what to do with it.
My prayer for you, new believer:
Father, I thank you for those who have been and are being made new and choosing you everyday. I thank you God that you have planted each and every one of them in fertile soil by streams of living water. I thank you God that each of them are plantings of mighty oaks, sown, watered, and growing into the image of your son Jesus. I thank you God that these mighty oaks are growing big and strong to withstand any storm that comes against them. I thank you for the overflowing joy that they experience because of their new life and I ask you God to make it contagious to both believers and non-believers. I thank you Jesus that each and every new life in you has been awarded an abundant life and freedom to live life to the fullest of your endless capacity. I thank you that the cup of their life is always overflowing with Jesus. In Jesus precious name….Amen.