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What is a Christian?

Recently I was able to attend a women's conference. I chose to attend the elective "The evangelistic heart for the ordinary Christian". We were asked to form small groups to discuss how to define a Christian, and we then reported back to the main group.

Definitions included . . .

  • Follower of Christ
  • Child of God
  • Bible believer
  • love Jesus because he died for our salvation

The group seemed wowed by my definition . . .

A person who has trusted in Jesus' death and resurrection as paying the penalty for our sin, and who lives a transformed life as a result.

This time of reflection on "What is a Christian?" got me thinking. Would the average Australian, if asked randomly while walking down the street, give any of these answers? Maybe they would be more likely to say things like . . .

  • hypocrites
  • someone who has been baptised
  • someone who doesn't have sex before marriage
  • a person who goes to church
  • me, becuase my parents were in the Church of England
  • a person who doesn't like gays

Some of these things are not an accurate impression of Christianity. Some of them are true, but they are simply expressions of a transformed life or of our continuing struggle against sin. How do you think that Christians can do better at giving the right impression of what a Christian is, so that more people might be likely to give the same definition that we would?

Homemanager  – (March 26, 2008 at 7:08 AM)  

Sherrin,
Yours is the true definition. I'm so glad to hear you talk about a transformed life. So many people have not truly heard the gospel and therefore have not truly been transformed by it. It is only by preaching the full gospel (meaning: we are desperately in need of a savior and we can't change ourselves and Jesus is that perfect atoning sacrifice, given for us, that we might be transformed and live a life pleasing to God)and we must trust in the work of Christ and not our own works.
We are epistles, our lives speak to those around us. We need to repent of our sin and recommit ourselves to walking in righteousness.
Blessings dear friend,
Karen

Bron  – (March 26, 2008 at 11:53 PM)  

Hi Sherrin, haven't popped by your blog in a while (we've had no internet) it's great to see you're still at it!

You asked how we can give the right impression of what a Christian is? I think in a word: joy.

It's joy that corrects against a lot of the false impressions you mentioned.

Of course, I don't mean forced cheerfulness or pollyanna-isms. I'm more thinking along the lines of what John Piper is getting at in a lot of his books. (That reminds me, I've been meaning to pick up "How to Fight for Joy" again. Have you read it?)

:)

Bron

Faith  – (March 27, 2008 at 4:21 AM)  

Great definition Sherrin!
I think that if we, as true Born Again Christians walked as Jesus walked, the world would see Christianity lived out better. We need to be more like Jesus! And ditto what Karen wrote!

Sherrin  – (March 27, 2008 at 10:59 AM)  

Thanks for your comments, Karen and Bron :)

You are so right, Karen! I think that I didn't understand the gospel fully until long after I'd "become a Christian"!!

Bron, I'd never thought of joy correcting false impressions . . . but it makes sense!

I haven't read "How to Fight for Joy" but it sounds like I need to :)

Sherrin  – (March 27, 2008 at 11:02 AM)  

Thanks for your comment too, Faith! I didn't see it for a minute! That is the essence of Christianity, isn't it . . . walking as Jesus walked.

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