What does it mean to belong to Christ?
In Acts chapter 14, we read a portion of the Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul entered the synagogue of the Jews as was his custom in verse 1, and he spoke in such a manner that many of the Jews and Greeks believed. However, the Jews who did not believe stirred up the Gentiles and they embittered them against the brethren. In Acts 14:5 some of the Gentiles and Jews wanted to mistreat them and even stone them but Paul and Barnabas became aware of it and left for Lystra. Later in the chapter, Luke tells us that some of the Jews came from Antioch and Iconium having won over the crowds, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city supposing him to be dead. The bible tells us that Paul in fact was not dead, but he got up and went to Derbe with Barnabas and preached the gospel there. Can you believe this guy? He was stoned and dragged out of the city! The bible tells us in other places that Paul was imprisoned, beaten and threatened for following Jesus and yet he wasn’t willing to give that up for anything. He gave himself completely to Jesus Christ. He belonged to Jesus and wanted others to do the same. But what does it mean to belong to Jesus Christ?
- Belonging to Christ means being related to Jesus- Paul described his relationship with Christ this way: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul describes a wonderful relationship–one that every person may have with Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’ve done you can have a relationship with Christ the same as Paul did. We are able to have a relationship with Christ because He loved us first and gave Himself to die for us. In this great act, Jesus made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. Any and everybody can come to Christ by believing in and being baptized into Him. A man asked Paul before he became a Christian, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). Have you done that yet? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
- Belonging to Christ means following Jesus- There are several ways the bible describes this relationship between Christ and His people (Christians). Jesus Christ is the:
King of His people who make up His Kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19, 28; 1 Pet. 2:9-10)
Husband of His people who are His bride (Eph. 5:21-33)
Shepherd of His people who are His sheep (John 10:14),
Head of His people who form His body (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4).
All these wonderful relationships share a central idea. Each one implies that Christians follow the instructions and authority of Christ. Citizens of the Kingdom are under the rule of the King. A wife is subject to her husband. Sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. The body takes instruction from the head. Belonging to Christ means following Him–listening to and obeying His words.
- Belonging to Christ means following ONLY Jesus– Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Because we love Jesus who died for us, we obey Him. But this means loving and obeying ONLY Him and no other. Think about it. When a citizen of a kingdom obeys another King, it is treason. When a wife goes after another man, she is unfaithful. When the body doesn’t take instruction from the brain, this is a serious medical problem. The Apostle Paul wrote to people who had given allegiance to others: “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:12-13). Those Christians were claiming to belong to Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. Paul’s point is that Christians belong to Christ and to Christ only. If we belong to Christ, our spiritual allegiance is to Him only, not to people or religious organizations. Sadly, today, some claim to be Christians but they bind themselves to the teachings of uninspired men. For example, Lutherans follow religiously the teachings of Martin Luther. Catholics follow the instructions of the Pope. Some today claim to belong to Christ, but give allegiance to man-made- sects or denominations. Some say, “I’m a Christian, but I’m also a Baptist” or “I’m a Christian, but I’m also a Pentecostal.”
This is not what God planned for His people. Read the New Testament and you’ll see that Christians were under the direction of Jesus, not belonging to a denomination. They were simply Christians and they simply belonged to Christ who purchased them with His own blood (Acts 20:28). We can do the same today by reading the Bible for ourselves and just doing what it says. Start with Jesus, stay with Jesus and end with Jesus.