Some people have difficulty understanding what it means to be a Christian. Does it mean going to church, praying regularly and often, and reading the Bible daily? Does living as a Christian mean following a bunch of “dos and don’ts?" I would suggest it means all these things and others as well, but there is really no place in scripture that gives a neat list of what is involved in following Jesus.
Examples of what it means to practice real Christianity can be seen in many places outside the Bible, in the lives of those who are trying to do it. A few years ago a friend had to spend some time at John Hopkins’ Hospital in Baltimore. While there, he became acquainted with a lady named Robbin, who had been there for several months, receiving treatment for cancer. She also had severe heart problems, along with diabetes. When my friend met her, she was voluntarily cleaning the kitchen in the hospital’s auxiliary house, which was reserved for patients with cancer.
He had been impressed by her positive attitude, as well as her desire to help others, in spite of her own troubles. You see, she not only had cancer, but after she became ill, her husband divorced her because, in his own words, he just couldn’t handle the problems associated with her poor health. But, in spite of this, Robbin was going forward in her life. She dreamed of earning her nursing degree after her health improved so she could help others in a greater way.
It may be that Robbin was helping people in the greatest way possible right then, by the example she was setting for those around her. That’s not to say that nursing isn’t an excellent helping profession. Like me, you may know those in the nursing field who are severely over-worked, under-paid and many times under-appreciated. But Robbin knew that one doesn’t have to be a nurse or doctor to be able to do helpful, uplifting things for others.
The Biblical writer Luke records in the ninth chapter of Acts the story of Tabitha, a young lady who lived in the ancient Mediterranean port city of Joppa. She was known among the early Christians as one “who was always doing good and helping the poor.” (Acts 9:36) Dorcas, as her name is translated in the Greek language — both names mean “gazelle” — was loved so much because of her good deeds, especially for helping the poor. When she became sick and died, the apostle Peter was called to come and help. According to Luke, when Peter got to the upstairs room where her body lay, “... the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.” (Acts 9:39) Here was a disciple about whom Paul’s words to the Thessalonian church certainly applied. Tabitha was a Christian whose “... work [was] produced by faith” and whose “... labor [was] prompted by love ...” (1Thessalonians 1:3)
It seems to me that Robin and Tabitha were both cut from the same cloth, and that we all can learn from their example.