What is a Christian?
A Christian is a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Christianity according to Oxford Dictionary.
Not a real useful definition, is it?
Fortunately, Christ himself gave us several characteristics that Christians should possess. In fact, he would often say "they will know you are my disciples because.."
The Confusion of Christianity
There is a great confusion about what a Christian is. Many people profess to be Christian, but seemingly live like others who are not.
Those opposed to Christianity point to a hypocrisy in the choices Christians make and what ideals they claim to have.
Some people think of a person, like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa, while others think of personality traits like generosity and humility.
What’s fact and fiction? Read on to learn for yourself.
First, let’s discuss what a Christian isn’t, and that may form a better picture of what it is.
What a Christian isn't
A Christian is not a sinless person. Claiming to be a Christian does not magically stop a pattern of behaviors that someone has practiced for a lifetime. Some people drastically change their behaviors overnight. Others seem to take the rest of their lives to change. Was one truly a Christian and the other not?
Not necessarily. As those who oppose Christianity will quickly point out, even those without a relationship with Christ can change their lives.
The Correction of Sin
A Christian is not a judge of sinners. The phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” is a bit of a mantra among some Christian circles. While I am not thrilled at the overuse of this trope, it does illustrate that while we are to judge sin in the lives of others, we are not to judge the eternal destination of the person committing the sin.
Most people claiming to be Christian will agree with this assessment. Clearly, the Bible has warnings against judging others. There is also clear direction that judgment is reserved between believers and not those who do not claim to know Christ. While we are all sinners, those who are in Christ will not have their sin held against them, so we are called to correct other believers.
Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5 (CSB)
While we are called to correct others, that correction should come in very specific ways and at very specific times. Too often those who claim to be in Christ ignore or are ignorant about these commands from the Bible. I will address that in a future post, but know if a person claiming to know Christ is judging those who do not, they are not following the commands of the Bible.
Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid. I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism.
1 Timothy 5:19-21
Christians - Enemies of Fun?
Christians do not hate fun, and they are not without joy or happiness. Too often, people who proclaim Christ focus so much on the rules, they lose sight of the grace that God provided them (John 15:11). While we should not continue to live in sin, we should also not be so focused on removing sin from the world that we forget we exist to lighten the load on our neighbors (Mark 12:31).
The mark of a true Christian is they adopt Jesus’ viewpoint of the world and the people in it. We are not only called to love others, but to serve them. If Jesus can lower himself to wash the feet of his own disciples, we should humble ourselves and serve those who do not always agree with us (John 13:3-5).
If we are called to pray for and love our enemies, we should be willing to stop and provide assistance to people we cannot stand to be around (Matthew 5:43-45).
Who Should be Called Christian?
So who should be called Christian. What can we do to earn the title of Christian?
Here’s the beautiful part. We can’t do anything. We don’t deserve it. But like the issue of salvation, we can’t do anything to earn it. We don’t deserve it. Jesus earned it when he died on the cross. He gave us this title. God made us co-heirs to His estate by adopting us into His family.
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift- not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation-created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (CSB)
Claiming Your Birthright
Being a Christian is claiming Jesus as your brother. Pure and simple, you are identifying yourself as a child of God. It means in the same way you trust a chair to hold you up when you sit in it, you trust Jesus to catch and hold you when you do fall. We all fall to sin, but it is the mark of a Christian that we do not stay down, but stand up after the sin.
The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children, and if children, also heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ-seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:16-17).
A Christian's Posture Toward Sin
The difference between Christians and those who are not is the posture toward sin. We should no longer seek to sin, but rather seek Christ and His teachings. We fall into the arms of Christ when we do sin, but walk tall knowing He is our hope for any relationship with our creator.
The difference between Christians and those who are not is the posture toward sin.
What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life
So, know that when you accept Christ, you claim what Jesus told the woman at the well. First, you believe that He does not condemn you for your sin, and then you agree to go and sin no more (or do not seek out sin anymore, John 8:1-11).