When most people think of calling themselves Christian, they instantly think of salvation, in the sense that to call oneself Christian means that we must be assured of eternal life in a hereafter. I used to think this way, and now I do so no longer. Early Christians would have known who they were based on their attempt to model their lives after their Lord. In essence, they attempted to be apprentices under Christ. It was much more of a relationship like teacher to student than we are used to. For they believed that Jesus was the smartest, most wise, and inherantly good teacher for human life.
I think that Christians must regain this aspect, to begin to believe that Jesus is our greatest teacher on how to live and act. Essentially, we must learn his craft. Yet to do this means that we must invest ourselves in kingdom life, this is not a new legalism, it is a change of our heart. If we begin to find Jesus’ kind of love, agape love, then the deeds that we do for the kingdom will start to naturally flow from within us. This is what Jesus means by good trees bearing good fruit, and bad trees bearing bad fruit. Agape love fulfills the law according to God, to love God with everything we have and to love others like ourselves. The agape love is found in the person of Jesus, who loved and judged no one, and sought to reconcile and restore human lives with God the father. What Jesus taught about the Father was that he wanted to give humans their true identity as humans, and to tell them who they were and to let them know that their deepest longings were met only in him.
So where do we go from here? What if we cannot be good “apprentices”? Does this mean that we quit? No, it does not mean that at all. Every artisan who has an apprentice knows that they are an apprentice for a reason, for they do not know the craft as well as the teacher does. Graduate assistants do not know as much as the professors they study under. We will mess up, sometimes very bad, but this does not stop the teacher/student relationship, many times it magnifies it. Maybe that is why Paul was always talking about our weaknesses making God appear much stronger, for he is not weak and fragile like we are. I know that this is a lot to deal with, and I have pretty much taken two arguements from writers that I have been reading, but I implore that you read some books on the subject. Here are some good ones: