Monthly Archives: December 2012

Are you a Christian? A reality check…

I heard a sermon today that challenged my faith to the very core.  Not many Sunday morning sermons really shake the bedrock of your soul.  Most of the Sunday sermons I grew up listening to were the hell, fire and brimstone messages and had a majority focus on winning souls for Jesus.  But every now and then, Jesus uses that traditional Sunday time to tap you on the shoulder and say…”hey are you still listening?”.  Today was one of those days.  The question was posed, what is a Christian?  Simple enough, yet thought provoking.  My mind immediately raced to someone who believes in Jesus Christ.  My pastor gave several examples of how the phrase, “I’m a Christian” is used.  For society, today, the most widespread meaning behind that phrase is someone who lives a morally sound life.  Catch that?  No mention of Jesus.  I was drawn in by the fact that the word Christian is only mentioned 3 times in the New Testament.  Three times!  The New Testament is all about the life of Jesus, and more importantly the rise of the church and the spreading of the gospel.  Yet all that “Christian” stuff only results in the actual word being used 3 times.  But those three times are very powerful and serve as a litmus test.

1. Acts 11:26 “When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people.  It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.
The key word here is “called”.  A called person is someone that has been given a title or label by someone not in their “group”.  For example (as mentioned by my pastor) the man that delivers packages and drives the big brown truck is called the UPS man.  He has a name, but we know him by the UPS man.  In the same way, the pagans or non-believers labeled or called these followers of Christ – Christians.  Why did they do this?  Because they were different.  There were changed.  One day these folks were just ordinary members of the 1st century society and then they “changed” and became something new.  So with that calling, there must be a change, just as Christ tells us that we become a new creation when we accept the gift of salvation, our life is changed.

2. Acts: 26:29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both of you and everyone here in this audience might become as I am, except for these chains.”
Paul is speaking before Agrippa and giving his testimony, trying to prove his case for why he has chosen a life of following Christ.  The key here is he chose this course.  We must choose at some point in our life to follow Christ or reject Him.  God sent His Son Jesus to be the savior of the world.  He made the way for us to be reconciled to Him, paid it all.  Yet, the choice is still ours.  We must make a personal decision to follow Christ if we are to become different and take the title of Christian.

3. 1 Peter 4:16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.  Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!
Suffering.  There it is.  I have heard many of my friends and others talk about the foolishness of taking on the belief of something that required me to suffer for the cause.  I have often laughed at this, because I know that the suffering they speak of is not the same suffering that I am called to take glory in.  Their idea of suffering is having to battle temptation to indulge in the ways of this world.  Being poor and without material wealth.  Giving rather than relieving, etc.  The suffering that we are to endure with pride is the same suffering that the first Christians endured.  Ridicule, out-casting,  and in some cases, death.  To take the label Christian means that we must live a life that will, surely at times, mean we will be made fun of, ridiculed, laughed at, avoided, and more. We will suffer because we still carry this sinful nature and though we strive to do what’s right, we fail time and time again.  We will suffer because we endure loss and pain in this life when we long for what we hope for.  We become an enemy of the world in the sense that the world represents those that have rejected Christ.

This sermon shook me.  Can I truly call myself a Christian.  Have I passed all three tests?  I admit that I have not lived a life that is purposed after Christ.  I have not experienced growth like I should have, because I have not always given my all for Christ and lived according to his purpose in my life.  I challenge you today to face these three touch tests and make a commitment today.  Maybe that commitment is to follow Christ for the first time in your life.  Maybe that commitment is to give your whole life to Christ and lean on His purpose and understanding.