With all of the perspectives on this subject, a church on every corner, and a variety of views from Christian radio stations, what really is a Christian?
One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible comes from Romans 3:4 which says to let God be true but every man a liar. I learned early off that the Bible easily trumps the opinions of man. So what does the Bible say?
The first time the disciples were called “Christians” was in Antioch (Acts 11:27). This was a derogatory term. It basically meant “little Christ”. It was descriptive of their lives and how they imitated Jesus on so many levels. Interestingly, Paul even tells us that we should be imitators or followers of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1). Those that called them “Christians” were the ones that had killed Jesus and figured they were finished with Him altogether, but now they had a bunch of little versions of Him walking, talking, and praying like Him. They saw these “little saviors” (Obadiah 1:21) getting the same miraculous results that He got, too. When these “Christians” were reviled, they did not revile back. When they suffered persecution, they didn’t threaten back, but instead committed themselves to God who would ultimately judge righteously (1 Peter 2:23). These folks had been changed. They had encountered God personally. He had affected their whole lives! They were all in, not really caring anymore about what people said of them. They all had testimonies and they didn’t love their lives so much as to shrink back from death (Revelation 12:11). Their God-consciousness had surpassed their self-consciousness…and it showed.
Now we can use them as a standard. And even better, we can use Christ as the standard. Do our lives look like His? Can people tell? Can we? Are we sold out for Him? Are we all in? Do our lifestyles tend to emulate His? Is our life at least moving towards that direction? These are all healthy questions. (Please listen to the message I shared entitled “Examine Yourself” which can be found at www.GodinHD.com/audio/ on this website. It goes into more details.) 1 John 2:6 says that if you say that you abide in Christ, then you also ought to walk as He walked. Simply put, a Christian is a Jesus Christ look-alike, a type of duplicate or clone. After all, the Father means to make us sons again…something that was lost in the Garden of Eden. For whom God did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29). And what does a son of God look like? Well, we get every answer and every angle we need from the Son of God, Himself. Jesus is the prototype.
Another important point about a Christian is this: Church is not just some building. Christians are the church. They are really portable or mobile sanctuaries, carrying around the very presence, power, and glory of God inside of them (2 Corinthians 4:6-7). What a thought, that we are actually the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So it is true that we don’t have to go to church to worship and connect with God. The Christian can live in and experience His presence and fellowship constantly. So does the Bible say that we can skip church because many of them are so boring or uptight? Actually, it says that we shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as some have the habit of doing, but rather that we should get together often and exhort or encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25). Church isn’t boring when people get together for the right reasons. It’s sort of like a locker room. We meet and call out plays. We encourage each other and build chemistry as a team and it becomes like family. But we don’t stay there. We, as “little Christs” leave those four walls reminded of His love and His desire for mankind. We then work together with God to bring His presence, His beauty, His love, His provision, His ideas, His personality, His forgiveness to those who don’t yet know (2 Corinthians 5:18-2 Corinthians 6:2). God’s very intention is for His Kingdom to again cover the whole earth. He will do that through His children. A Christian is called the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). They impact this dark world with light. So what are Christians? Christians are partners with God in the earth. We are the very body of Christ in the earth (Ephesians 5:30). We are His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece…bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. A Christian is God’s representative or Heaven’s ambassador in the earth.
A Christian is a son of God. So how does a person become a son of God? How does one become a Christian? Well, whosoever confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead, at that moment, salvation takes place (Romans 10:9). There are so many cults that are so close, yet so far away. Did you see it? An agreement with Heaven that Jesus is Lord, God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16) is absolutely mandatory. At that moment in time, the person passes from death to life (John 5:24). You can thank Adam for that one. There is no such thing as a Christian who hasn’t been born again (1 Peter 1:23). The new birth is absolutely essential (Titus 3:5). Since Jesus died and rose again, we die and rise again in Him (Romans 6:4). He was the first one born again, never to die again (1 Corinthians 15:20). When people look at us, they should see very real similarities with the Jesus we read about in the Scriptures. He is the very embodiment of every aspect of that glorious Kingdom (Luke 17:20-21), who lives through us now and will soon be back to receive His own (John 14:1-3). Jesus said that you can know a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:20). Are you His own?
Lastly, do you love the Lord? Do you love Jesus? Have you come to know and believe the love that God has towards you? Let me tell you something very liberating. Being a Christian is more about grasping the love that God has for you, rather than striving to love God as your duty. Are you dwelling in that love now, because God is love (1 John 4:16)?