Thursday, January 31, 2008

What is a Christian? - 5

Getting back to our discussion of "What is a Christian?"...

As the Presidential election dominates the news, I've been reminded of images, video clips from the past, showing politicians walking out of churches, smiling, shaking hands with the Pastor...a Bible tucked under their arms.

Some people think that going to church makes a person a Christian. Others think joining a church--becoming a member--makes a person a Christian. Wrong on both counts.

While attending a church and joining a Christian church is great, neither one of those acts makes a person a Christian.

A person has to make a conscious choice to become a Christian--he or she must come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the One sent by God to be a sacrifice for his or her own personal sins. And he or she must accept that sacrifice on his/her behalf. This is what a Christian is. No one becomes a Christian by default.

(For those of you worried about infants or unborn children who die, or children who perish when they are too young to understand the Gospel, or those too mentally disabled to understand, don't worry. God is loving and kind and holds them securely in His hands. They will be, or are, with Him in heaven.)

When a person believes this about Jesus and accepts it, they have become a Christian in that moment.

However, this means it is possible to attend a church, and even to be a member of a church, and not truly be a Christian. As a matter of fact, I'm sure every Christian church, and every Christian denomination, has people sitting in their pews who are not truly Christians. It is good that they are there. And we hope they will come to true belief in Christ sometime (soon). But just because someone goes to church or is a member of a church does not mean they are a Christian.

While Christians are definitely not perfect, it is also true that sometimes Christians are blamed for problems in the world and for wrong and violent things that are done when, in fact, the people who did those things are not Christians at all.

Just because someone sits in a pew...just because someone attends or joins a church...just because someone tucks a Bible under his or her arm...just because someone calls themself a Christian...does not mean he or she actually is a Christian.

To recognize who is truly a Christian and who is not takes way more discernment than that.

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