Who is a Real Christian? What makes a Christian? The answer is actually so simple it can escape us.
How can you tell who a Christian really is? Is the clue to be found in the way they dress? Is it in the way they talk – the words they choose? Does it have to do with their level of education or income, or lack thereof? Is it determined by the people with whom they are friends? Can it be determined by their political affiliation, or lack of one, or would they be non-political?
The answer is actually so simple it can escape us. A Christian is any person who trusts in Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:9-13). Placing trust in Jesus has a profound impact on who we are. The impact is so great it is described in Scripture as a re-birth. Through the work of the Holy Spirit we are placed through adoption into a right relationship with God and with our fellow human beings. This is all accomplished by God’s grace – not something we can achieve by any work or effort or striving on our own resources. It is a gift God gives us because He loves us.
As we live in relationship with God, and grow in that relationship, our lives will become characterized by the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Our transformed lives are intended to bear testimony to God’s power, and bring glory to Him. We are meant to live as Christ’s ambassadors – in our world (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
It is really a matter that we are enabled to participate in God’s life (see 2 Peter 1:3-8). We are, by God’s grace, able to share in God’s nature. As the Holy Spirit works with us, and we learn to live God’s way today, we can anticipate entering into the fullness of that life for eternity.
So to go back to the start of this article, some of the things mentioned indeed may be different in the life of a Christian. For example, the words we choose should be different as we grow in the fruits of the Spirit. Love, grace, purity, kindness and truth should characterize our speech. As we mature in Christ, our words and deeds will be different. There are externals that may indeed be indicators of Christianity. However, at its heart, it is the total reliance on trusting Jesus Christ that defines our Christianity.
That reliance on Him results in the changes of practice and belief that will characterize a believer growing in the faith, but those results aren’t what make the Christian. Placing our trust in Jesus Christ is what defines a Christian.
It is as simple – and as profound – as that!
Gary Moore is the national director of the Worldwide Church of God Canada.
Originally published in Northern Light Magazine, October/November/December 2007.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2008 Christianity.ca.