What is a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? We often water down its meaning to a set of beliefs, or simply being a nice person or to hold old-fashioned, traditional values. In the New Testament book of Acts, we are told that “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

 

This word – Christian – is the word “Christ” followed by an ending which means “a person devoted to.” So, the people in Antioch were giving those believers a new name, “those who are devoted to Christ.”

 

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). And this is the question we should be asking ourselves as Christians. What did Jesus do and teach? Are defining our Christian faith by these things?

 

The priorities of Jesus on earth are clear in His life and teaching. He came to reconcile people to God through His sacrificial death. He came to teach about a God of love. He came to heal and to help. As John puts it, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17).

 

Jesus did not abandon us to find God for ourselves. He came to us. He loved us to the point of sacrificing Himself. If we are “those who are devoted to Christ,” our lives will reflect this. We will also seek to reach outside of our comfortable places and sacrifice our comfort for the good of others.

 

An old prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi captures the spirit of this giving. Let us pray these words and ask God to make us truly Christian – “those who are devoted to Christ.”

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

 

 

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church

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