Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What is a Christian?

If you were to take a survey of a sampling of the world's population, I would venture to guess that you would come up with a wide diversity of definitions and/or opinions as to what a Christian is.  The answer seems pretty simple to me, and I would guess that most people would feel the same way.  But if that is the case, how come so many of us have such widely differing, and sometime contradictory, answers?

Many people will say that a Christian is nothing more than a tag that one uses to identify themselves, a check box on a survey.  If I call myself a Christian, then I am one; nothing else is required by this definition.  But is a Christian anyone who claims to be one regardless of beliefs or lifestyle?  I don’t think so; anymore that claiming to be a cow would make a person one.

For some, being a member of a Christian church, or at least attending one occasionally, is what makes one a Christian.  But is being a Christian simply a matter of attending a ‘Christian’ church?  Does occasionally shopping is a running store, and reading an article or two in Runner's World, make be a runner?  It would seem to be that being a Christian, at least in a Biblical sense, is more that asocial activity.

Following a specific moral code is the key for some.  If one is at least giving lip service to the 10 Commandments, selected portions of the Old Testament law, or the code defined by some church, then they can claim to be Christians.  But is that all it takes, being moral?  If so then there would seem to be many people who claim to be atheists who in reality are Christians.

Others will look for a specific set of beliefs, although what that belief set is will vary depending on who you ask.  But is it enough to accept that a certain doctrinal statement is correct?  James 2:19 says: “You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”  Having correct beliefs seems not to do much good for them.

I claim to be a Christian.  I am very actively involved in a mainstream Christian church.  I live by a very high moral standard.  And I am in agreement with most of the doctrinal stands of my denomination.  But does that make me a Christian?  I do not believe so.  Being a Christian is more than that.  It is having a relationship with the God of creation based on the redeeming death and resurrection of Jesus and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Being a Christian is a matter of trusting him with my life.  Being a Christian is not just another thing that I am, like being an engineer, husband, backpacker…  Being a Christian is at the core of who I am, and it is as a Christian that I work as an engineer, am a husband and father, enjoy the world around me and serve my God.

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