I find myself asking this question when I see a car with an ichthus symbol cut off another driver or when a neighbor who goes to church every week responds to an unfortunate inconvenience by saying “I don’t care if she’s dying.” They seem to go through the motions of being a Christian but show nothing of it.
I have been told by an acquaintance that he considered himself to be Christian although he didn’t believe that Jesus was or could be Divine. He felt that he respected the “do unto others” and “love thy neighbor” preachings of Jesus and tried to follow that code. Another friend serves selflessly and with a generous heart, but doesn’t consider herself to be Christian. Here they exacted works but showed no faith.
This is a question that I have been journalling about for quite some time, 8 or nine years. It’s been a way for me to study and understand my faith as I observe others and myself. Very recently, as part of an application, I have been asked to define my Christian parameters and I thought I would share these along with my answers here.
What do you believe about Jesus Christ and what is your relationship with Him?
I believe that Jesus Christ is God. He existed before creation, and He took the form of man. He walked the earth healing the sick, ministering to masses, and teaching men to follow Him. He was crucified on the cross for the sins of mankind; this includes my sins. He was resurrected after three days, appearing to His followers, then ascended into Heaven. Through the teachings of Jesus’ apostles found in the Holy Bible I am blessed to learn more of the Messiah. My relationship with Jesus Christ consists of prayer, petitioning and meditation.
How is the work of the Holy Spirit active in your life?
The Holy Spirit is what led me to Christ. Like a conscience, the Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me my sin. The Holy Spirit moves me and encourages me to reach out to other people. I believe I have been gifted with hospitality and listening when there are needs.
How is your personal growth in faith and obedience to God nurtured and encouraged in your life?
I grew up in a Christian home where the scripture was read every evening after dinner. I describe my parents at times as my “spiritual” parents as they were the ones that led me to Christ. They have been a great example to me as they minister to disabled children and have always opened their home to visitors. Now that I live six hours from them, I have my husband and church family, in addition to the Holy Bible, to rely on for spiritual guidance.
Would you describe your involvement with your church or parish?
My husband and I have been attending our church for two years and became members as of January this year. Despite being “new” members, we have been active in the church for some time. We are involved with our Sunday School class, and I volunteer in the food pantry once a month. We are blessed to be in a church where the Holy Spirit is active and where the members truly desire to know God.
What are your plans for your child’s Christian development?
I will raise my child to know that the ways of the Lord are righteous My husband and I will pray with and for this child daily. We will have our child attend Sunday School. I hope that this child will come to know the Saviour at an early age, but I would wait wanting the child to accept Jesus with genuine faith and would not pressure him or her.
I feel like I could expand my answers, but I don’t think they are looking for scholarly responses citing references.
The Bible is the Christian’s basic informational resource before leaving earth, yet it’s not a manual with clearly defined rules and procedures. (And even then the things that are spelled out clearly are mostly ignored.) Can you be a heretic and a Christian? There are so many churches and beliefs, surely someone somewhere is going to call you a heretic. I just read in the news today that pastor and author Rob Bell has been declared a heretic by Justin Taylor and John Piper for his beliefs in universalism. (Universalism, simply put, is the belief that everyone will end up in heaven for there is no hell.)
Leaving that bag of worms open, and returning to my original question, I will end with John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”