Who is a Christian?
Many people think they know what a Christian is. But most people, even those who claim to be Christian, do not.
A Christian is not someone who was born Christian, the same way Jews are born Jewish. Christianity is a daily choice, not a birthright.
A Christian is not someone who goes to Church once in a while or even faithfully every Sunday. That’s a lifestyle choice, that doesn’t guaranty that those who live that way actually know who they worship.
A Christian is not someone who knows the Bible inside and out, and bases their life decisions on what is written between its pages. That is a good discipline not limited to Christians, but also religious people and even unbelievers.
A Christian is someone who has a relationship with Christ, initiated by their acceptance of His gracious sacrifice and redemption of their soul on the Cross. The relationship commenced when they repented of their former ways and accepted forgiveness for their sins, and received the Holy Spirit as a living Counselor in their soul.
Everything a Christian believes, practices and experiences from that moment forward is directly as a result of that indwelling Spirit and relationship with their Saviour. With the absence of the Holy Spirit and a relationship, one cannot be a Christian.
This is very important to make a distinction because of the promises Jesus gives to His followers. Many people who consider themselves to be Christian, or who even consider a whole country to be Christian (because of the multitude of Churches and Church-goers), assume these relationship benefits for themselves and for their country…
However, Christianity is not a corporate identity! Christianity is a personal relationship, which can and should be experienced in community with other Christians. The Body of Christ (His Church) is an invisible body of Believers, that will be revealed at the second coming of Christ (and no sooner).
I recently had an exchange with an Atheist, who argued that Jesus promised to feed all the starving children because Jesus said:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt 6:26)
Christians know to whom Jesus is speaking… Jesus is speaking to His disciples, His followers, who He has also commanded to forsake all things to follow Him, and that they should have faith in God’s provision! Jesus is not talking to a faithless world, or a Christian country, or Church-goers. Jesus’ promise is for those who live by faith and take up their cross and follow in His footsteps.
In the same way, she misunderstood other references in the Bible to state the claim that God promised that there would be no poverty, because He takes care of the poor. I don’t know anybody, even among those who claim Christianity culturally but not personally, who believes that no more poverty is a sign of God’s reign!
The same Christians whose needs He promised to meet are the ones He commanded to heal the sick, feed the poor, help the oppressed and love one another. If more people will exercise the faith to obey Jesus and actually do these things, no doubt, world poverty, sickness and the rest will be a thing of history.
Jesus presented the solution to our problem in a way that allows us to take personal responsibility and develop godly character, but we would much rather He do it for us, and we can continue to be as selfish and disobedient as we like. This is probably why when the anti-Christ comes, he will have a great following. As an earthly ruler, he will probably settle the third world debt and bring false peace on the Earth (1 Thes 5:3), and many will follow him because in their hearts they will say “he did what God could not do!”
She later went on to justify her lack of belief in the power of God to help people in genuine need, because Christians all over the world are asking God for petty favours, and thanking Him for their luxuries. What this reveals more than anything is that she doesn’t know who a Christian is or what it means to be Christian!
The President of the United States is probably the most powerful man in the world. He has so many resources at his disposal and many servants at his command. If his daughter needs money for school fees, would he tell her that she has to wait until he resolves the unemployment crisis in parts of the country, and that he doesn’t want to look biased??? Of course not! Whatever she wants, as long as it is within his power, and he believes that it is good for her, she will get it!
That is the difference between Christians who live by faith, and the world, who may or may not believe that God exists! By virtue of our relationship to the Father, who has the whole Earth’s resources at His disposal, we CAN and we DO go boldly to His throne of grace and ask whatsoever we need of Him, believing that He loves us and will answer us according to His perfect will for our lives. We do not presume that He will spoil us and give us things that will cause us to disregard Him, dishonor Him or fall away from Him (just like the President might refuse to get his six year old daughter a smart-phone, because it just isn’t appropriate, and she doesn’t know what she’s asking!).
Yes, Christians ask God to meet even their most mundane needs. They believe He cares and will answer their prayers, because He is watching over them like a loving Father. If you do not have such a relationship with God, you can not expect the same response when you suddenly realise that you need money for rent! It doesn’t mean that God won’t graciously provide (because God is good to the unjust and the just), but you would have no real cause to expect Him to prioritize your requests.
No, God does not always deliver Christians from trials. Many Christians have had genuine needs for health or safety or even provision that God has not met. It has caused some Christians to lose their faith, because they believed that God would always show up for them. But I believe there’s a reason that God allows even His chosen to go through times of tribulation and testing. Read my post WHERE WAS GOD, which deals with this issue for Believers.
More than children of God, more than followers of Jesus, Christians are called to be set apart for God…to be a Royal Priesthood unto Him, and a peculiar people in the world (1 Pet 2:9). This means that as Christians, we can be even more audacious about how we expect God to move in our lives, the way that an unbeliever, or even a Church-goer cannot. As royalty, we have been given authourity over the Earth. As Priests, we can appeal to God on behalf of others. As peculiar people, we do not conform to the world in their definitions of wisdom, love, strength and many other things. Christ, to whom we belong, uses our bodies to perform His will on the Earth (Rom 12:1-2, Eph 2:10).
True Christianity is rare, but many seek to make it common (Matt 7:14). People might accept Christ for the privileges that Christians enjoy, especially when these privileges are used as bait by Preachers to get more followers. But God is never mocked. No matter how many things you do in the name of religion, He knows those who are His, and will say to the pretender, the copy-cat, the ignorant (who came cluelessly in without understanding) – “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you!” (Matt 7:23).
Photo credit: http://www.lesliepuryear.blogspot.com
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