What is a Christian?

If I told you I was an African person would you believe me? No doubt this would greatly depend on whether you could see me. If I was standing before you, you would probably notice that I have white skin, which is not usually a sign that a person is from Africa. Of course there are people from Africa who have white skin, so you would have to look a little deeper to discover if I was telling you the truth. It would help if you yourself were from Africa. You would have a much better idea of what to look for than a non African person.

In the same way if someone tells me they are a Christian it is not always easy to determine if they are telling the truth, but it is much easier if you are actually a follower of Jesus yourself. If someone showed me by their behaviour that they were totally out of line with the teachings of Jesus, then it would be obvious to me that they are not what they claim. It stands out as clearly as the difference between my white skin and the skin of my friends who were born in Uganda or Nigeria.

The difference between an African and a European person can be something we can see clearly with our eyes, but if I was blind then it wouldn’t be quite as easy to make that snap judgment. Because they are not His followers, most people are blind when it comes to things of the Spirit of Christ. It’s not really that hard to make a judgment when you know Jesus, because you have been conscientiously following His teachings from the time you gave your life over to Him. And to do this you have been studying those teachings in the book He has carefully provided for you. It is the book Christians have traditionally died for in the thousands, and it is the book that they use to guide them and determine their doctrine. From this book it is clear that Christian people are commanded to love even their enemies.

People who claim historical figures calling themselves Christians did atrocious things have probably not read the Bible. If they had they would realise that Jesus said many things that pertain to such circumstances. He said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only those who love you, why should you get a reward for that? Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than anyone else. Even the people who don’t know God are nice to their friends. What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Mat 5:43-48)

He also said:

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but you don’t do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

And later He added:

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Mat 7:12-23)

We are not Christians because we say we are, we are Christians because we follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as He has instructed us to do. It is usually quite clear to the person who has spiritual vision whether another person is following the teachings of Jesus. Do they love their enemies? Are they feeding the hungry and clothing the naked? Do they care about the eternal destiny of their family and friends? It is important to spread the gospel but as Peter said:

…… in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1Pe 3:15)

Spreading the gospel cannot be done at the expense of Jesus’ other commands, it must be done hand in hand with love, humility and respect. Never with sword in hand, that is the way of the antichrist. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3)

And to the church in Colossae he wrote:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)

Christians then should be evident by their demeanour. If they are not showing evidence of these attributes they need to take stock of themselves and come humbly before the Lord and ask Him to help them change so that they are more like Him. As for the Crusaders and Inquisitor, each one must stand before the Lord of lords and it is He who will judge them. If they have been found to be protecting or defending themselves then they will have a case for violence, if it is violence they are fending off. If they are simply perpetrating violence for some perceived “Christian” goal, then I feel almost certain God will say, “Depart from me.”

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2 comments on “What is a Christian?

  1. Pingback: The Power of Love | The Way & The Truth

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