What is a Christian?

I gave my mum a book written by a young christian man and after she had finished reading it I asked her if she enjoyed it. Her response was "it made me feel very sad as I didn't think he was a very good Christian at all".

This got me thinking, what is a Christian? If one walks into a room, what does he or she look like, what do they sound like, what comes out of their mouth, what does their behaviour look like. Because how we present ourselves to the world is how non-Christians "see" us and from this they base their views on Christianity. Some even want to know more based on our behaviour.

All I can say, many non-Christians must be very confused, as I am at times.

Over the years I have read many blogs by Christians (mostly by women) and the one thing that strikes me is the diversity of belief. Whilst we all believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He died on the cross for our sins, our lives varies so much, it is hard to know what "living a Christian life" is. Are we all correct in our interpretation of the Bible?  Are some being more liberal in their views? Have some modernise their views to fit into today's society? Are other way off track?

Here are something I have noticed, in no particular order:
  • Some Christians only wear skirts, others wear trousers/jeans etc.
  • Some go to church, others don't
  • Some have tattoos, others would never
  • Some wear very little jewellery, others wear lots
  • Some wear makeup, others would never touch the stuff
  • Some colour their hair, others don't, long hair or short hair
  • Some are very fugal and believe that wasting money is not Christian, others aren't
  • Some watch TV and own a TV, others think a TV is something a Christian should never have
  • Some say its OK to go to the movies, others would never dream of entering a movie theatre
  • Some drink alcohol, others don't
  • Some read all types of literature, others are very careful
  • Some women cover their heads, others don't
  • Some support homosexual marriages, others don't
  • Some believe in submission, others don't
  • Some believe women should never work, others don't
  • Some vote, others would never vote
  • Some join political parties, others want nothing to do with politics
  • Some send their children to school, others believe this is wrong
  • Some believe in having many children, whilst others have only a few
  • Some get divorced, others believe this is to be avoided at all cost
  • Some treat the Lords Day as one of no work, others don't
  • Some believe that time at church is quiet and reserved, whilst others support lots of loud music and bands. 
See what I mean . . . what in this list is wrong or right or isn't there a wrong or right about any of these things. No wonder why so many non-Christians are completely confused.

Do any of these things matter - does having a tattoo make you a lesser Christian. Is working outside the home sinful (as I have been told many times), should we vote, should Christians avoid alcohol or going to the movies?  Some Christians are very strict when it comes to many of things listed above and critical of anyone else who don't do as they do. As a child we had no TV, never went to the movies, no alcohol, no ear-rings, wore only skirts, no voting but we attended school, we covered our heads on Sunday mornings but at no other time. My mother's view on Christianity might be considered very old school, but she worked all her life as a school teacher and sent us off to school. Some would argue that this was wrong and that she should have been a full-time housewife, had many more children and this was her only (sacrificial) calling. 

What is right . . . is everyone . . . or none of us?

Is the Bible that unclear? I like the quote below by John Chapman:

During my stay at Donald Robinson Retirement Village, I have been disturbed by the fact that several people who appear in every other way to be disciples of Christ seem only to submit to the Bible's teaching when they agree with it. When they disagree with it, they dismiss it.  

Are we picking and choosing what we like? Yes, we take what we want and leave the rest, we embrace the happy verses and avoid the not so pleasant. As A. W. Tozer says in "Living as a Christian"  - We must take all the Word of God and not water it down.

It is not about the number of children you have compared to someone else or whether you homeschool it, is what is in your heart and what "shines through" every day. True Christians seem to glow with joyfulness, kindness, caring towards others (never hatred or harsh words), gracious in their behaviour, not critical or hurtful of others, slow to anger and want those around them to share their joy, they are not selfish or loud.  There is just something different about them that is noticed by others.  These are the people who completely in the trust in the Word of God for all things and place all their worries and fears into God's hands, knowing that He will look after them. They don't walk about claiming to be a Christian, they "live" it and "share" it with others. They don't lecture others or point out the wrong doings of others, they simply "walk the talk".

You know one when you see them. There is some special about them. They may be covered in tattoos as a reflection of life before Christ, but the Word of God is what they live by and it oozes out of them.

I don't know the answers I raised, but I do know that if I have any doubts I always turn to the bible, it contains all the answers I need. And pray, and pray some more - that is all I can do. I stumble and fall regularly as I am only human. I am in no position to lecture anyone else on how their life should be, only God can have that discussion. 

Read Romans 12

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:14-18


  1. What a bag of worms, Jo!!! :D

    I don't think anyone but God can answer those questions.

    One of the biggest problems I see in the world today (myself included at times, I am sure, as I am not perfect) is that there is little (sometimes no) separation amongst believers - and by that I mean separation FROM the world and separation TO God.

    Christians are called to be different - not so different that they become a laughing-stock unnecessarily, but different so that the difference can be seen between light and dark, sin and righteousness, and different in that they will not even have the *appearance* of sin evident in their life - "Abstain from all appearance of evil." -1 Thessalonians 5:22. That is a high and difficult calling, especially in a society that has painted everything in so many shades of grey that it's ridiculous.

    Yes, I believe all the answers are in the Scriptures... The problem isn't that God hasn't provided the answers, the problem is that either people are unwilling to search for the answer, OR they put their own bias or interpretation on the Scriptures and that makes their answer different from either God's or someone else's who rightly divides the Word of truth - "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
    -2 Timothy 2:15.

    And yes - people pick and choose which bits they will take from the Scriptures, and which bits they can conveniently ignore (and they usually have a reason they consider to be good enough - for example, "that was a cultural thing in Bible times, it's not for us today", or "that word isn't talking about ___________, it's talking about ____________).

    And people won't see in black and white like God does - with God, either it's light or it's dark. Either it's sin or it's holy. Either it's Godly, or it's ungodly. Either it's cold or it's hot. There is NO shade of grey with God. Shades of grey are a sign of man's sinfulness, not a sign of how clever he is.
    "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth." -Revelation 3:15-16
    God can't stand grey, or lukewarm.

    1. "And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." -Ezekiel 44:23
      Again, if it is not holy, it is UNholy (no shades of grey). If it is not clean, it is UNclean (no shades of grey). No fence-sitting with God. So when we make a decision regarding the life-styles and choices listed in your post - we better be sure we're on one side or the other... and if we're a Christian, we better be sure we're on GOD'S side! :)

    2. People don't want to be different and as Tozer says - they water down the Word of God and they end up sitting on the fence. But they would swear black and blue that they were Christians. I don't know how they reconcile what the Bible says and what they do. The one at the moment of course is gay marriage - how do they reach the conclusions they do when they are contrary to Gods Word.

    3. I often wonder how they reconcile it too, Jo... I guess we all miss the mark in some way (seeing as none of us is perfect)... But some of the errors out there in Christendom seem so glaringly obvious when you study the matter in the Word.

  2. Your list contains at least two different categories. 1) Those things that Scripture is perfectly clear on, but people just don't want to accept; 2) Things that Scripture provides guidance on but which remains a personal exercise (e.g. it doesn't state what women should, wear, but it most definitely gives the character of what they should wear). Often 2) is mistaken for 1) -- someone decides what they believe is acceptable and they seek to impose it on others. The second category certainly causes the greatest difficult, and it takes a good deal of grace to be accepting of the individual exercise of others. Nevertheless, that being said, for many of the points you make Scripture is far from vague on. It only remains a question as to whether we submit to them or not.

    1. Homosexuality is very clear in the Bible but many "modern" Christians now seem to see this as acceptable and I am not sure how they do this when the Bible is also very clear. Do they just say that because it is modern times and Christians need to "move with the times" to get around the verse on this one.

  3. Clara, if you will forgive me -- though I don't think you intended it this way -- we don't separate from the world to separate to God. It's always the other way around: "ye turned to God from idols" (1 Thess. 1:9). It is only a heart full of Christ that will turn us away from worldliness; it is only then that the things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

    1. Thanks Nick. I actually intended those to be individual points (there should have been a comma in there, too... bad grammar!), not as a chronological order - (A) we separate from the world, and (B) we separate to God (just as a way of pointing out there's two ways in which separation is important. But you make a very good point. Thank you! :)

  4. Separation is a huge thing to me - too many people don't want to be separate or different. I don't think we should be a laughing stock, but the verse comes to mind which says it was obvious "they had been with Jesus" (or something close to that).
    Should the gospel be "seeker-friendly" - so that we make it like those we try to reach, or should we be offering them something different, something that makes them turn from where they are?
    Also, life should be about HIM, not about me - that should be evident from a Christian's life - do we live for ourselves or Him (and therefore serve others without looking for return?)?

    1. Separation is something I struggle with as I never liked being so different at school. Fun though, I was never teased for looking different and I had plenty of friends, so perhaps they never really cared that I dressed differently to them and did things on Sundays. Perhaps it was all in my head!

      And you are quite right - it is all about HIM and not about me and many Christians make it very "me" centred (this is how I feel) and say lots of "I" when they talk.


Post a Comment