What is a Christian?
The term Christian means "little Christ".
I used to think it meant "Christ like", and while that definition works, I like "little Christ" better.
This phrase brings to mind images of a son acting like his father, which is exactly how I want to act, like God.
Christ himself gave us several characteristics that Christians should have. In fact, he would often say "they will know you are my disciples because.."
Disciples of Christ Display Love
Love is a many splendored thing.
Especially when that love is being supplied by the creator of the universe. It is with this love that Jesus spoke of in John 13:35.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37-40:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
A Personal Relationship With Jesus
Another trait of a Christian is that they have a personal relationship with Jesus.
So how do you have a relationship with a man who died over 2000 years ago?
One of the core beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus died, but was then raised from the dead after 3 days.
People throughout the ages have had this relationship with Jesus, the son of God. With time and effort, you can too.
Leaving the World to Follow Jesus
Making the decision to let Jesus lead in your life is deciding to leave the world behind. It is what "dying to self" means.
Most of the Christians I know say they lost so many friends when they decided to pursue Christ.
There is a cost to making this decision, but the reward is eternal life with God. Finding a home in the church and learning alongside other believers is a pretty good perk as well.
It may seem like leaving fun behind, but Christians see that their sins had them enslaved. The freedom Jesus offered keeps life simple and free from the need to impress others.
The Birth of Faith
Jesus spoke often about faith. Usually he pointed out the lack his followers displayed. Sometimes he commended those who sought him out.
Faith isn't an experience, but a skill. It develops from trusting that God is who he says and can do what he claims.
Christ also equated faith with power. The more power required to perform miracles, the more Jesus pointed out the lack of trust.
Think of the chair you may be sitting in now. Did you test it before you sat down? How did you know it would hold your weight? Did you trust it to hold you up without a second thought?
Do you trust Jesus or God with the same measure of faith? I long to reach that kind of trust that it becomes second nature and not a conscious effort to trust in God.
Faith or Works?
There has been a longstanding debate in the church whether it is faith that saves a man, or works.
Many of Paul's writings suggest that it is belief, but some of the other writers in the New Testament insist on works.
So which is it?
It is the faith that saves, but works are the effect of that trust. It's like the chair I mentioned earlier. Believing that the chair will hold you up is nice, but you don't display belief in it until you take a seat.
A Heart for Others
Jesus also had a heart for other people. He was harsh toward religious leaders who made life hard for people labeled as sinners.
He knows that all people are sinners. Jesus seems to have a soft spot for those who recognize this and are open to their need for Him.
The religious leaders did not acknowledge their sinfulness. This caused them to think they did not need anyone or anything to save them.
Jesus tended to ignore these mentioning that well people did not need a doctor, but sick people. This is why he chose to keep company with sinners.
Friend of Sinners
Jesus' invited the first disciple - a young tax collector named Matthew. This choice showed who his ministry would target.
It wasn't about the best, strongest, or brightest people. His ministry didn't need scholars, priests, or the devout.
Jesus would build his ministry with sinners. Fishermen, tax collectors, and revolutionaries all followed Jesus during his mission.
He defended those he accompanied. When he met people who needed him, Jesus was there to help.