I have come to learn over the past 20+ years (starting with myself!) that the term “Christian” means different things to different people. For some it means following The Big 10 (Commandments, that is. You know…the major dos and don’ts of the Bible). For others, it means living a “good life” and trying to be a “good person.” For yet others, it seems to be something one is “born into” – much like your nationality or a particular ethnic group you identify with.
But what if it means much much more?
The Bible says that the term “Christian” was first used among those who believed and followed the ways of Jesus Christ of Nazareth upon his death and resurrection. (…in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. Acts 11:26). There are additional references to the term in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16.
Fast forward to modern day.
Firstly, I always think it’s interesting when a person can hold that the crux of their faith is based on a man dying on a cross and raising to life three days later, yet assert that other claims of the Bible are just stories or man-made inventions to justify cultural norms. If we can profess to base our faith on the belief that a man walked the earth, claimed to be God, lived a blameless existence but was murdered anyway and then came back to life – is that not pretty radical? Can we not stretch further to believe the omnipotence of God, His character and His ways beyond that?
Secondly, if you were going to identify with any particular group, wouldn’t you want to know what you were identifying with? Now, to be fair, for many years, I had no clue. I was among the I-thought-I-was-born-into-this-Christian-deal group. As a young, free thinking adult though, I realized the need to dig a little deeper and learn some things for myself. I quickly came to realize that I wouldn’t become part of an organization – giving my money, my time, my talent, my mental and emotional energy – without knowing about and believing in their cause so why would I do that with what I choose to believe in?! Can you even imagine signing an “I believe” statement without actually READING it?! That seems crazy…yet many of us do it with our faith every day.
If we call ourselves “Christians” I think we really do owe it to God – and to ourselves – to know what that means. And if we do our research and decide that we don’t agree with the tenets of Jesus Christ, His teachings and His ways (ALL of them) then perhaps we don’t identify with the term anymore? We don’t get to say “I am a Christian BUT… I disagree with this part.” It’s a pretty all or nothing deal. It really is.
More about that later, along with a follow up question:
is there a distinction between being a “believer” and being a “follower” of Christ? Stay tuned…
“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.”