What does it mean to be a Christian today? How does that vary from what it used to mean? Has the definition changed?
I don’t believe the definition has changed, but I think that we have convinced ourselves it has.
I think we have over-complicated the definition and that we can often lose our Christianity in the confusion.
Being a Christian is not that complicated. It isn’t easy to do, but that isn’t the same thing as being complicated.
A Christian is a follower of Christ. That’s it. A Christian is not defined by denomination or by how many Jesus saves stickers they have on their car. A Christian is a follower of Christ.
So what does that mean, to follow Christ?
Now that question is where it gets muddy. A lot of Christian’s seem to believe that following Christ to church on Sunday and then following him to Cracker Barrel afterwards is about all that is required.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble but that is actually not the case. It is not biblical and it is not healthy to believe that.
Christianity is not just a label. It requires effort. Being a Christian, following Jesus, means daily sacrifice. It means not always being able to do what you want. It means putting other people before yourself.
There are a few principles that we see in the Bible, among the followers of Jesus, that we can still, and should still, apply to our lives now.
The followers of Jesus listened to Him
The followers of Jesus changed for Him
The followers of Jesus talked about Him
This is not “the” exclusive list. Being a Christian is not about lists, it is about life change. But I do think that if we apply these three things to how we live our lives every day, then we can be closer to Christ and He will change our lives for the better.
His followers listened to Him. They were literally following Jesus and he would talk to them and teach them daily. We can listen, to His word, daily. We have a book that tells us what to do and how to apply His teachings to our lives. If we read it. If we pray to Him, and if we listen, then we can be followers of Jesus.
His followers changed for Jesus. It took time. It took failure and pain. But His followers changed their lives and hearts to serve Him. Some change appears to have been easier than others. They gave up their old lives as fishermen and tax collectors, to follow Jesus and learn from Him. We can give up our old lives. We can avoid things that lead us to make bad decisions. We can make decisions based on our desire for Jesus, rather than on the desires of the flesh. Which, incidentally is best for us anyway.
His followers talked about Jesus. After His crucifixion and resurrection His followers spread the good news. They talked about Jesus even when it led to arrest and beating. They talked about Jesus even when it led to death. We, in the west at least, are free to talk about our faith in public. Yes there are arenas where it gets messy to talk about Jesus, but for many of us that becomes an excuse. We need to get over making people uncomfortable and focus on getting people saved. I would rather someone dislike me for trying to share the gospel than withhold the truth from them just to be politically correct.
Being a Christian is not complicated. But it isn’t free either. It comes at a cost. That cost is more than many of us are comfortable paying. The cost is our lives. The reward however, is is an eternity of love and peace.
Is it worth it? I can only answer for my own imperfect life. I am still a work in progress. I am still in the process of giving myself up to God, in the big things and in the little. But from what I have see in my life and the lives of those around me, the answer will always be yes.