What is a Christian?

The answer to the question “What is a Christian?” will vary greatly depending on who you ask. To some, it means you believe in Jesus or the religion that is based on Jesus’ teachings. Others use the word “Christian” to speak of a deep personal relationship between Jesus Christ and themselves.

For me, the best answer I have ever heard to the question “What is a Christian?” is someone who acts “Christ like”. Using that answer to solve the riddle, a Christian would be a person who patterns their behavior, activity, and speech like Jesus Christ. I guess in today’s world we need to ask ourselves which “Jesus” they are patterning themselves after?

My wife and I have started attending a non-denominational mission church for the homeless in our community. I have written on several occasions about the wonderful church I have been involved with for over thirty years and the great work we do for our city. But over the last couple of years as I sat in the pews of this mainline though liberal church looking at all of the affluent white faces with a parking lot full of new shiny automobiles I have felt like something was missing.

What I discovered was missing was the rest of the world, the real world. The part of society many of us don’t acknowledge and hide from ourselves.

Sunday a homeless man slept in our pew beside my wife during the service. When it came time for the offering the man in front of me reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumbled dollar bill and thirty-seven cents which he counted again and again as if the amount would change before the offering plate made its way to him.

All of the sensories that make my home church a sterile environment are under attack at this mission church. The sights, the sounds and the smells are unsanitized. There is a tension, a grittiness, a feeling of lost hope and desperation that fills the sanctuary. For many who filled the pews this past Sunday it was an opportunity to get out of the elements if only for a few hours and receive a warm meal. They aren’t worried about Donald Trump, or healthcare, or tax cuts. They don’t care if someone says “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” to them. They can’t imagine the kind of opulent wealth our President touts and displays as a sign of his superiority. They aren’t “of the world” they are in it, and hanging on by their fingernails.

I believe the Evangelical Christian world has lost its way believing in and using Donald Trump to light their path. Their view of how the world “should be” goose steps with the world Jesus encountered. They have forgotten that Jesus bucked the status quo, of which they have now become. But none of us would ever be able to convince any of them that they aren’t on the path to “Glory”. Their view of the world is singular, a narrow tunnel with a dim light at the end. They think they know the source of the light but in reality all they have to go on is an uneducated guess.

As I watched the man with the crumbled dollar bill and thirty-seven cents I wondered what he thought he was buying for his money. Maybe a little time on a very hard pew in the air-conditioned sanctuary. I suspect, given the condition of the bill it was all the money he had. But no worries “our” President is responsible for the U.S. gaining “more than 5.2 trillion dollars in Stock Market Value since Election Day!” as the Evangelicals cheer him, on their quest to be recognized as the only true believers and protectors of the gospel.

What does grace and salvation cost? About one dollar bill and thirty-seven cents.

Article: Have We Forgotten the Point of Christianity?

 

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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14 Responses to What is a Christian?

  1. William Tell says:

    May be an OK moment to plug mine: “The Homeless Blogger”
    http://williamatell.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your posts are always good……rarely do they make my heart jump for joy. Yes, huddled next to the masses of the poor and society’s outcasts, that is where Jesus dwells. Namaste, brother

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If Christ appeared to many of our “Christian” religious leaders today to explain they have his message wrong, many would reply we don’t need you here now, we have this under control. Many of us have created the Christ that justifies who we are and our lifestyles. I am reminded of a tee shirt from years ago which had printed on it “Jesus is coming and boy is he pissed.” I think I’ll just lay low for while.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed the read but in the kindest way I have to disagree with the answer you gave to the initial question “What is a Christian”, and I would love to dialog on this. I believe your answer more closely answers the question, “What is a Christian like?” But the essence of becoming a Christian is entirely different. Scripture teaches that someone does not become a Christian by doing good works as Christ did, someone becomes a Christian by acknowledging that they cannot earn salvation and place all their trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sin. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” I hope this makes sense. Now, when someone believes in Christ, and trusts in him the result ought to be a changed life filled with good works, not perfectly but progressively (sanctification). I’d love to talk more about it! All the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • First and foremost thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment.

      Second, I am not a fan of Paul which is kind of like saying I am not a fan of Christianity since it is the religion of Paul rather than the religion of Jesus Christ. JC didn’t appear on earth to start another religion, his efforts were to fix the one he knew and loved. Paul and James (brother of JC) converged on two different paths after JC’s death and Paul won.

      I like what the book of James states; “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

      Here is my long and short about any religion, if your faith makes you a more loving, and compassionate person to everything and everyone (even those that don’t believe as you do) then go in peace. But, and this is the BIG ASS BUT, if your beliefs place you above, in your mind, of those who don’t believe as you do, those who lifestyle you may disagree with, then for me it doesn’t matter if you believe in Christ or if you think you are modeling your life after Christ in my boat you are lost.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nan says:

        Love, love, love that last paragraph!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the reply! I do think your question is a common one and it is a great question regarding James and Paul and how these writings seem incompatible. Interestingly, I’ve written a paper on how Paul and James do not contradict each other, and the summary of that paper and the research on the word “justified” is helpful here. To summarize it, there are two definition of justified used in these passages; the first means something is actually made right, and the second means it is shown to be right. James here is using the second definition, while Paul in the passage I referenced (Rom. 3:28) is using the first definition) – Here’s the research: (Justified – δικαιόω (dikaioō): vb. 1. put right with, justify, vindicate, declare righteous, i.e., cause one to be in a right relation (Ro 3:24); 2. show to be right, demonstrate something is morally just (Ro 3:4).

        To explain further, James is saying in that passage that someone is saved by the one true faith; the type of faith that produces good works. Abraham’s faith was justified (shown to be real) by his works, and so this showed that Abraham was truly justified by his faith because it was real. If you look at the context, which you did well to write, what James is trying to show is that real faith will produce works, and if you live perpetually contrary to what you believe then that is not real faith. To give an example – think about faith and works like this – If I told you I planted an apple seed, you would be able to tell if that was an apple seed based on if apples came forth. The seed is the faith, the apples are the good works.

        On your view of Paul, In Scripture, Peter agrees that Paul is an authoritative writer of Scripture, so if you throw away Paul, you also throw away Peter. 2 Peter 3:15, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.”

        Lastly, if Paul is an authoritative writer of Scripture, and I have to mention here that the Lord Jesus personally struck him blind and commissioned him to preach the gospel (Read Acts 9:1-22) (which would not be contrary to what Jesus taught because Jesus commissioned him). It is good to “use the clear passages to interpret the unclear passages” as Augustine said. Based on other passages as well (John 3:16-17, Phil. 3:9, 1 John 4:10 to name a few), it is clear that a person is declared righteous and forgiven by God for their sins through faith alone apart from works. To close take Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Through him, not through living like him. But anyone who is saved through him will live like him, not in order to be saved, but because they are already saved.

        Lastly, to tell someone that what they believe is not true does not have to be viewed as “placing yourself above them”, it could be viewed as trying to help someone come to grip the only way to be forgiven by God for their sin. But to be honest, this is not my opinion, it’s what Jesus has said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus said that he is the only way because he’s the only one who is able to forgive sins.

        Resource: James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997)

        Liked by 1 person

        • I certainly appreciate your academic approach to presenting your point. I am footing the bill for a child getting her PhD in religion as we speak (she has her Masters and undergrad in religion as well). I like to think her Dad’s unacademic, common sense approach to religion spurred her interest.

          Yes, Jesus said that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” But who’s way is He? The Jews way? Muslims way? Buddhist way? Or your way? Your path?

          Just as there there are many rooms in “My father’s house” there are many paths to enlightenment. Maybe you are on the right path for you but never ever believe that it is the right path for everyone. One size doesn’t fit all. Please don’t be so judgmental that you believe your Religion is the one and only true path.

          In my opinion Matthew, Mark & Luke were enough. These three books provided the essences of JC’s message. The Book of John put words in His mouth and created the symbolism and structure for a new Religion, symbolism and structure we didn’t need and for me has caused more division and discord than harmony (thank our modern day “prophet” Franklin Graham for much of the division and discord).

          I am not going to convince you any differently and you certainly aren’t going to convince me either. I am a simple man, probably not very smart, but I am smart enough to know this, you don’t have the answers to questions, nor do I. The answers will come later if they come at all so until then, be nice to other people. Treat them with respect and grace. The end ~ Peace

          Liked by 1 person

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