I’m going to write a blog series entitled “What is a Christian?” I almost titled it “What is a Christ follower” but I don’t want to confuse the topic. The truth is, there are a lot of ideas of what a Christian is in our culture, even in the church culture, and many of them are not biblical. I also realize there is no shortage of books, blogs and articles discussing this topic but I think another topical discussion may be helpful. I’m preaching a series now through the book of Ephesians and, along with that, a mini-series of the church called “Full Church.” Within the series, each week, I’m making statements about the church: “Church is…”
So, I want to spend some time on the blog making the same type of statements: A Christian is… I would state it like I have in the church series but it would really sound like Forrest Gump, “Christian is as Christian does, sir.”
But what comes to mind when I ask you, what is a Christian?
For me the answer begins with; a person who follows Jesus. But, what does that look like? I’m confident that what some believe defines being a Christ-follower falls short of what Jesus actually says it is. For example, a Christ follower is not someone who calls on Jesus simply when they need something. It’s much more than that. If you confess to being a Christian I probably don’t have to convince you of that but let’s dig a little deeper into the Christian.
Where do we start?
I can think of no place better to begin than Jesus putting Pharisees and Sadducees in their place. It’s always a little fun to see the religiously educated try to play a game of theological tennis with the creator of the universe. In Matthew 16:1 the Pharisees and Sadducees want Jesus to give them a cosmic sign from heaven to prove His Messiahship. (Keep in mind that at this point of the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus has nothing left to prove.)
We can actually learn something about being a Christian in the way Jesus answers their request.
Jesus tells them that though they have no trouble telling the weather, “Red sky at night shepherds delight, red sky in the morning shepherds take warning,” they can’t see what’s going on right in front of them. That’s what Jesus means when He says, “You can’t interpret the signs of times.”
Wouldn’t it be crazy to be so concerned about “God stuff” like the Pharisees are and miss what Jesus was doing right in front of you?
This can happen in the life of the modern day Christian too. I see it most when Christians define Christianity simply as where they’re going when they die. Now, I’m not stating that heaven is a bad thing to be looking for but that is not the definition of a Christian. It would be a tragedy to be simply focused on heaven, or the future, and not realize what Christ is doing in the world and in your life right now.
What’s a Christian?
A Christian is a person who can recognize that God, through Christ and His Spirit, is doing a work in front of us, in the world and in us, right now.