So what does it mean to be a Christian at the end of 2016 in America?
Have you ever really thought about this question?
For many, being a Christian is just another identity to add to other secular identities. Apparently, many seem to think that Christian is just another moniker to add to the list of how a person defines themselves – adding to the list that includes their political party loyalty, nationality, and a host of other things I’m not going to get into here. Because that’s not the point of why I write this.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
It’s something that transforms who we are. Our loyalties lie with God and the Kingdom of God first. A Christian follows the way of Christ – attempting to follow out what he told us to do and be. Forgiving as we are forgiven. Living peace, as are instruments of peace. Showing mercy, as mercy has been shown to us. Offering love, as we have been loved. Giving grace, as we have received grace. And when we screw up and break relationships with God, one another, ourselves, and the rest of creation – then acknowledging that, and receiving forgiveness so we can go at it again.
That’s one answer to what it means. But not “the” answer.
It seems easier to define what being a Christian is not. But what’s the point of talking about that – there are plenty of voices who argue about this already.
Being a Christian isn’t about fighting over what being a Christian is not. It’s about how Christ transforms us and changes us to be something different in a world that is more interested in power, being right, control, violence, dominance, might, and more.
Being a Christian is attempting to live out an ideal – one we will never live up. Yet, that doesn’t mean we give up on it. If Christians kept trying to live into what we were called into, the world would change.
However, here’s the rub. It’s not about what we do. That should be apparent. We’ve been trying for centuries – and the result has been a ton of death and destruction and lives ruined. Most of the time because it’s our version of what we think Christianity is and using Christ to support our way of thinking and believing.
Yet, being a Christian isn’t about that at all. It’s about dying to self. It’s not using God for our advantage. It’s being conformed to God’s will. It’s surrendering. It’s being in a right relationship with God. It’s not about rules. It’s about joyful living. It’s about accompanying people in the crap of life. It’s about so much more than most of us even come close to knowing.
What would it mean for your life if you actually lived out what Jesus calls us to?
How would that change your life? What are you waiting for?
How would it affect the world?
Being a Christian today is more than a political party sub-label. If that’s all it is, it’s worthless.
But if it’s something that changes lives – then watch out. Christ might just call us to live differently. Christ might just call on us to interact with other differently – especially those we consider our enemies and opponents. Christ might just call on us to give up some things so there is room for us to receive other, better, things.
What does it mean to be a Christian today? I would guess it looks a lot different than what most people think it does.