My church, Immanuel, recently went through the Red Letter Challenge (RLC). The challenge is about basic discipleship. So as Christians, saved by God, how do we live as followers of Jesus Christ? What does it look like? RLC gives us 5 Biblical principles for us to put into practice: Being, Forgiving, Serving, Giving, and Going. These are based on the words of Jesus, the red letters of Jesus speaking as found in some Bibles. Jesus at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) says doing his words is like building your house on a rock, and not doing them is like building your house on sand which means the house will collapse when the storms of life come (Matthew 7:24-27). Doing his words gives your life a solid foundation.
Being is a foundation principle. God wants you to be in a relationship with him. How can we build that relationship? God speaks to us through the words of Scripture (Psalm 119:105). The words of Scripture were inspired by God and were written to God’s people then but for us today. We respond in prayer with praise and thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), as well as sharing our concerns and requests (Philippians 4:4-7). We worship together (Hebrews 10:23-25), remembering all God has done for us and supporting one another. Our doing flows out of who we are as people of God and who we become when we spend time with God. God changes us.
Forgiving is needed in our broken world. We are broken people who do wrong and hurt people. We need God’s forgiveness (Romans 3:23). God has every right to punish us, but when we turn from the wrong we do, say, or even think, and turn to him, God forgives us (Acts 2:37-38). There is no sin too big for God to not forgive (1 Timothy 1:15-16). He empowers us to forgive others and bring reconciliation. Forgiveness is all about showing mercy and grace and realizing we are no better than those who offended or hurt us. We forgive because God has forgiven us (Matthew 18:21-35).
Serving is a way we can share God’s love with those around us and point them to God (Matthew 5:16). We do it because we love Jesus (John 14:15) and want to imitate him (Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 5:1-2). As people of God, he has given us good deeds for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). God loves everyone so the people we serve are people loved by God and are worthy of our love and service. We put their needs ahead of our own.
Giving starts with us realizing all God has done for us (John 3:16). Everything we have really belongs to God (1 Chronicles 29:14). He has been very generous with us and for our benefit wants us to be generous to others (Acts 20:35). Too often our possessions and money become idols (Matthew 6:24). We put our security in them more than trusting God for his provision. We should seek after the things of God and not worry about our needs but trust that God to provide (Matthew 6:32-33).
Going happens as we follow Jesus. God chose us and saved us though we did not deserve it. He did it, because he loves us and wants us to be in a relationship with him. He desires that for all people (1 Timothy 2:3-4), and he has given us the task of going forth to share the good news of God’s love and make disciples by teaching them all we know about God and the good he desires for us (Matthew 28:19-20). We can share the good news of how God loves us and has been good to us (Acts 1:8). We do not need to worry, God will give us the words (Matthew 10:19-20).
This post is inspired by the book, “Red Letter Challenge” by Zach Zehnder.