What is a Christian?
The label Christian was first applied to a group of Christ followers in the city of Antioch a little over two thousand years ago. It was a form of criticism and derision at that time because those outside the fellowship did not understand the mass (communion) and accused the believers of necromancy and cannibalism. The early church was a small ship of faith afloat in a vast sea of ignorance and pagan beliefs.
Surrounded by enemies, in constant danger of persecution and death, the early Christians clung to each other for mutual support. Their faith and fellowship were strengthened in the crucible of tribulation.
What of the church today? We are still fighting to uphold the faith against tides of cynicism and disbelief, all the while being beset by the raging hedonism of the age. In the first century, Christians were forced to affirm their loyalty to Rome by paying homage to the emperor. Today, Christians no longer burn incense before the emperor’s altar, but they are expected to bow before the shrines and gods erected in our own times. Failure to comply often means that we are banished to the fringes of society. In modern parlance, we are cancelled.
But I am talking only of committed Christian. Too many of us are willing to compromise and abase ourselves before other gods. We do not wish to be treated as pariahs. It’s easier to go with the flow.
This brings up a question. If you were accused and brought to trial for your Christian faith, would they have enough evidence to convict you? What are some evidences that should be found in our lives if we are truly Christian?
The following are paraphrased versions of certain instructions given to early Christian believers in the Apostolic letters:
- Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4.
- Stop lying to each other. Tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves. Ephesian 4.
- Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave Himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. Ephesians 5.
- Let there be no sex sin, impurity or greed among you. Let no one be able to accuse you of any such things . . . Remind each other of God’s goodness and be thankful. Ephesians 5.
- Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs but be interested in others and in what they are doing. Philippians 2.
- Your attitude should be the kind that was shown to us by Jesus Christ, who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His might power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And He humbled Himself even further, going so far as to actually die a criminal’s death on the cross. Philippians 2.
- You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life. Philippians 2.
- Continue to love each other with true brotherly love. Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it. Don’t forget about those in jail. Suffer with them as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, for you know what they are going through. Hebrews 13.
If you look at these as standards, who could live up to them? Certainly, not I. But be not discouraged. All of us fall short of being the person God would have us be. Each of us slips and falls and gets mud in our face. But, with God’s help, we regain our feet and continue to run the good race. And our Savior gave his life for us as an atonement for our sins.
But the question remains, if you were accused and brought to trial for your Christian faith, would they have enough evidence to convict you?