What is a Christian? How does one become a Christian? Have we been asked by someone who is a non-believer such questions?
The Bible has some words to help us think of the answers. Of course, we have the answer that a Christian is a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour, has his sins forgiven and has the Holy Spirit living in him.
To begin with, a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. However a follower of Jesus Christ may not be a Christian. For in Jesus’ life time, he had many followers. Crowds followed him because of his miracles and radical teaching, authoritative and astonishing. But there were those who stopped following when Jesus’ teaching did not take roots in their hearts or they were not prepared to accept the teaching. Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15) to illustrate why his teaching, the word of God, fell on hardened hearts.
Following Jesus as a Christian demands perseverance and endurance, even to the point of suffering for Jesus. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Mt 16:24-25)
Are we true followers of Jesus Christ?
A Christian is also a disciple of Jesus. Genuine and faithful following of Jesus must lead us to be true disciples of Jesus.
A disciple is someone who is devoted to the teaching and instructions of his master. He is also a disciplined student; willing to learn and to obey his master. Jesus chose twelve of his followers to be his disciples who he also called his apostles. He sent them out to carry out his instruction to drive out evil spirits, to preach and to heal the sick. (Mt 10:1)
Not only that, Jesus tells his disciples that the only way the world knows who his disciples are is by the love they have for one another. Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35). We are exhorted by the apostle James to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
Are we disciples of Jesus Christ such that he can use us to carry out his instructions and be obedient to his commands.
A Christian is described as a believer.
The early followers and disciples were first called Christians in the church in Antioch (Acts 11:26). They were all believers. What do they believe? They are told to believe that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord, that he is the Messiah who has risen from the dead and is the Saviour of the world. This is the powerful message that the early apostles preached. Read Peter’s address to the crowd on the day of Pentecost when he urged them to realize that God had made Jesus, who was crucified, both Lord and Christ, and that the resurrection of the Christ was a fact. (Acts2:14-41). This is what the crowd believed and many were baptized.
We are thankful that we in LPPC are reminded of what we believe whenever we recite the Apostles’ Creed in church.
The apostle Paul in his letters to the churches is so very careful to warn them about false teaching. Therefore, we should stand firm in our belief that Jesus is the Son of God, he is Lord of our lives and we worship a living God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, are you a true believer?
Do we have a distinctive identity? Yes, if we are truly a follower, disciple and believer of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives are to be distinctive by the way we live. The distinctiveness should be shown in our relationship with our fellow believers and non-believers alike. They should see Christ-likeness in us when we display the characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives.