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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59 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 3 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 2 people

  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 2 people

    • 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 2 people

      • 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 2 people

        • 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

          • I am not being judgmental in a mean sort of irrational way like many people. From my perspective I’m trying to help and I do hope I’m coming across as kind. If we were in person I think you’d see that I’m trying to show another fellow human being that I care. Anyway, I have to say is that Christ saying “I am the way” means he is THE only way for anyone to be saved, period. Your interpretation of that verse would go against common sense (again, not trying to be mean, just honest in a kind way).

            Lastly, in regard to Scripture, I hope you would reconsider the methods by which you come to conclusions on it. What I mean is this: Augustine said, “the man who believes parts of Scripture and not the whole doesn’t really believe the Scriptures, he believes himself.” If you’re really after truth, I think you’d consider what I’m saying. If you’re just after wanting to be right, then you’ll probably disregard it.

            I sincerely wish all the best to you! Congrats to your daughter getting a PhD!

            Like

          • You begin your comment with “I am not being judgmental” and end it with “If you’re really after truth”. If you were attempting to not be judgmental you missed that opportunity.

            I appreciate your youthful enthusiasm for your faith but I hope you will channel that enthusiasm actually helping people in need rather than telling them all about Jesus. Jesus isn’t a warm coat, or a hot meal.

            We all need to live in the world as Jesus did among the poor and the forgotten not hiding behind words, verses or rhymes.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Robbie, you have used up your allotted time to promote and spread your propaganda on my blog so I am going to use my “common sense” and say I am bored reading your disjointed testimonials. Peace

            Liked by 1 person

          • We’ll have to agree to disagree. I do wish you a Merry Christmas and pray you would come to see the truth of my statements. God bless man!

            Like

          • And I will hope that with maturity, enlightenment and living among the people, all of the people, you will discover the inner truth and beauty of this world. Peace & Blessings.

            Like

  5. the majority of Christians have forgotten that Jesus his name was really Jeshua and that he was a devout Jew only worshipping the God of Israel and never claiming to be God but very well knowing his position, to be a sent one from God and the Way to God, but not God himself.

    Christians should be those who follow the teachings of Christ, the Kristos or Messiah, who was declared to be the only begotten son of God, by the divine Creator, the elohim Hashem Jehovah. In Christendom we do find the majority not keeping to the commandments of the Only One God, Who does not want that people make graven images of their gods nor of Him, or would bow down in front of images or statues for worship.

    The American Evangelical Christian world may have lost its way believing in Jesus and using Donald Trump to light their path, but like the other evangelicals they put their hopes in the wrong person(s) and forget who should be their cornerstone and how they should keep to Biblical teachings and to God’s commandments and not to human doctrines and human traditions.

    The majority of those calling themselves Christian have forgotten that they should be followers of the Nazarene Jeshua (Jesus Christ) becoming like him and being in union like Christ is in union with God. Naturally the majority in Christendom have forgotten that because they know Jesus is one with God and because of their misunderstanding of that oneness they can not believe that we too should be one with Christ like he is one with God because in their thinking that would make them to be Christ and as such also to be God.

    The true Christians of Christianity can only hope the eyes of the trinitarian Christians once shall be opened and that they shall come to recognise that Jesus is the Way to God and that people have to believe in him for entering the small gate to the Kingdom of God.

    Like

    • So, in your opinion, do Jews and Muslims need Jesus to enter “the small gate to the Kingdom of God”?

      Like

      • Jews are already selected to be the chosen people to enter the Kingdom of God.

        We are convinced that to know Jesus will be the best way for all people to make it easier to come to God and to enter the Kingdom of God.
        But we also do believe that people who do not have the opportunity to come to know Jesus,because of the regions where they are living or restricted media possibilities, when they live according to the commandments of the Divine Creator, they shall not be excluded. They too fall under the Grace of Gdo by the ransom offering of Christ.

        Like

        • This answer is far less judgmental than I had anticipated so I congratulate you on that. My view is very simple, Christ is a path, Muhammad is a path, each of us has a divine spirit, a path within us. If, and sadly for many of your Christian brothers and sisters this is a big ass if, if your relationship with Christ makes you a more caring, compassionate, charitable, and loving human being to everyone and everything, no matter their color, beliefs, nationality or sexual preference in God’s creation you and I are good.

          But if you use your faith to judge the nature of others, convinced that you must save them from themselves then you and I are on opposite sides of the faith journey and no amount of rhymes or verses from your book of stories can or will convince me otherwise. Peace.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Nicely said.

            People forget that we are all made in the image of God. He is it also Who calls and allows the paths to be taken. For each person that can be a totally different path. Also each person is on a different step on the ladder to ‘heavenly peace’ or agreement with God and spiritual evolution or development.

            It is a pity so many people want to force others to walk in the same line as them. Mankind has to learn that the beauty lies in the diversity, the differences in colours and shades..

            Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Wagner the NAR and new wineskins | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  7. Kisha Scott says:

    WOW!! I am a christian, and after reading your post, and the comments all I can say is wow! I love Jesus Christ the Messiah, and I love creation..I fear God, and I hate evil no matter who commits it (Proverbs 8:13).

    Like

  8. Super thoughtful. Thanks for this! You mention acting like and following Christ, but how would you define the Gospel?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. terrys2017 says:

    I liked your answer on who a Christian is, that he or she is someone who “acts ‘Christ-like'”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. terrys2017 says:

    I liked and agreed what you said that being a Christian is someone who is Christ-like

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gary Allen says:

    Honestly, this post is a bit distasteful. I’m sure it got you a lot of views because you mentioned Trump, but why would you compare something so controversial? In essence, a Trump support cannot be a Christian according to you. With all the beautiful teachings of Christ, couldn’t focus more on something beneficial instead of hateful? Just my thoughts.

    Like

    • Gary I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and for sharing your thoughts. Sadly my post reflects the current eye for eye position of Evangelicals. Honestly, my perception is the right-wing Christian sect has anointed Trump the head of the Church, a move that will bite them in the ass.

      You find my words distasteful? I find the words and the actions of Evangelicals like Franklin Graham distasteful. I didn’t write this for views or likes, I wrote it so people who are being scorned and screwed by so many “good” Christians will know they are loved. Peace

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Suze says:

    “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.” That. Exactly that.

    Liked by 2 people

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  14. Marcus Ampe says:

    In the first place a Christian should be a follower of Christ, having the same God as Christ Jesus and following his teachings. In Christendom we see that the majority of people calling themselves Christian even do not worship the same God as Jesus and do not at all keep to the agapè love of Christ and do not obey the teachings of that Nazarene Jewish master teacher.

    Like

    • The truth of the matter is Christianity is like a mutt at the dog pound, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. If your brand of Christianity makes you a loving, compassionate and graceful person to EVERYONE no matter their beliefs, color, or sexual orientation, etc. then go in peace. If on the other hand your brand of faith makes you righteous and judgmental to those that don’t believe as you do, then for me, you are on the wrong path.

      Like

      • Marcus Ampe says:

        For me people may believe whatever they want. For God it is an other matter. Man is wrong to think that certain church or denomination is going to save a person. Jesus died at the stake for all people, believers, non-believers, good and bad people. Depending on what they believe and on how they live according to the commandments of God it shall be Jesus who is going to judge them. As such probably it shall happen that there shall be allowed people in the Kingdom of God who did not belong to any sort of congregation or to no church at all, whilst others may find lots of people from all sorts of denominations entering that Kingdom of God. I do not think to be on the wrong path and I do follow the Biblical teachings instead of human doctrines, but I can only hope that I too shall be allowed to enter the small gate. ……

        Like

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