How would you answer this? How would you know for sure? Can you even be sure?
I know I’m an Aussie because I have a citizenship certificate. I know I’m a dad because I have two kids… I know I am a surfer because I surf. I know I am a retic bloke because I can see sprinklers that I have installed working.
So for most things in life there are some sorts of verifying procedures, or proofs, but what about faith?
Try these on for size:
- I know I am a Christian because I live in what is considered a Christian country – FAIL
- I know I am a Christian because I attend church regularly – FAIL
- I know I am a Christian because I live a good moral life – FAIL
- I know I am a Christian because I believe in God – FAIL
So what’s the deal then? If its’ not about our culture or our behaviour or our beliefs then what actually is the bottom line?
Well, firstly let me say that I imagine you have more chance of being a Christian if you live in a Christian country (although I’m not sure Oz is considered one any more), if you attend church and believe in God and the Bible and choose to live a decent life, but reality is that you can do all of these and still not be a Christian as the Bible defines it.
Is that a shock to you?
If I had to name the one critical, non-negotiable for what the difference is between Christians and other folks it would be the issue of ‘who is running your life’. The thing that makes a Christian the real deal is that they follow Jesus and they call him ‘Lord’. They believe Jesus is able to relate to them and to guide them into life. Jesus once said ‘I have come that you might have life – life in all its fullness’, and that ‘life’ comes as we look at the world through the same lens he does.
The life of faith starts with an acknowledgement that we haven’t been able to do life as we had hoped. It begins with acknowledging our own failures. However as we grasp God’s love for us and Jesus death on the cross in our place, we begin to get a glimpse of a new reality.
Jesus spoke on one subject more than any other while he was on earth. That was ‘the kingdom of God’, or the world as it would be if we chose to live with God as king and do things his way.
So the life of a Jesus follower begins with faith, but then carries on with actions, those actions that reflect the rule of God. The word ‘Christian’ has come to mean many things to many different people, but if you want to know if you are one then that’s where I’d be starting.