What does it mean to be a Christian? A seemingly simple question. We say it, “I’m a Christian,” without hesitating, even without thinking, because we believe in Christ. We know about Him. We go to church. We sing hymns…
But what does it mean to BE a Christian? Although the initial step of becoming a Christian is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8), being a Christian means a lot more than just believing. More than just showing up. It requires more action than this. It requires us to do something more. It requires us to BE.
Form a Relationship with Christ
The first part of being a Christian is forming a relationship with Christ. Jesus’ death on the cross meant that we are now saved from eternal punishment and can now enter into a relationship with Him by His Holy Spirit coming to live in us, just by asking for His forgiveness (see Acts 2:38).
Once we have come to know Jesus Christ as our Savior we need to go a step further and really strive to know Him intimately. Pray. Talk to Him. Study the scriptures. Attend His church. Learn His characteristics. Associate with His believers, with fellow Christians.
Become Like Christ
When we come to really know Christ, we naturally start to become like Him. We start to emulate His characteristics and become more and more like Him. We learn what He would do in different situations and we begin to apply that to our life. We begin to act like He acted.
I have often heard people explain their reasoning for doing things by saying things like, “It’s the Christian thing to do…” They are being Christians. They know Christ well enough to know and do what He would do in that situation. Their desires are matching up with His desires.
Characteristics of a Christian
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy teaching him the characteristics of a true Christian. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” This means we strive to speak like Christ would speak, to act like He would act, to love like He would love. We strive to grow our faith strong like His and live in purity.
This is such a great aspiration! It will take us our lifetime but we can always be moving closer to this goal! Not on our own of course, but Christ is here to help us! With His help and our continuous effort we will become more like Him. He is our perfect example. He is our Savior! We are His Christians!
Christians Love First
When people speak of good Christians they are usually speaking of Christians who extend love to others. Christ is most known and loved because of His love for us. A good friend of mine once told me how she had been admonished to “love as Jesus loves.” After studying and pondering this idea for some time she had learned what John teaches about Jesus and His love.
1 John 4:7-9, 19 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. We love Him because He first loved us.”
She learned that Jesus loves people first. Jesus doesn’t worry about if the person likes Him before extending love. He doesn’t worry about if the love is returned. He loves first. He loves unconditionally. Do we love others this way?
Learn from Christ’s Life
I heard a story of a Christian College with a professor who taught a Bible class about Christ’s life. The day of the final came and the students found a note on the blackboard, stating the final was to be across campus in another building. Knowing the professor was punctual the students hurried to the other building.
When they arrived they were informed they had failed the final; the professor had placed many individuals “needing help” along their path, and they had not stopped to help them. The professor explained that Christ was always looking out for people, noticing who needed help, and taking the time needed to help them. Learning about Christ is important, but learning to be like Christ is most important.
Life is like that final. Are we succeeding? Are we noticing those around us? Are we reaching out to them? Are we acting as Christ would act? Are we loving as Christ would love?
Will we choose to BE Christians?
The better question is will we? Will we be Christians? Will we strive to know Christ? Will we strive to become like Christ? Let’s decide yes! Of course we will!
Christian leader Ezra Taft Benson stated, “Let our personal lives, our homes, and our work performance reflect our Christlike character. So love that others will say about you, ‘There is a true Christian!’”
~ By Trina Wilkinson
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