Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. – Billy Sunday
What does it really mean to be a Christian?
I used to take that word very generically. Some of my friends associate being a Christian with being from a particular political party. Some people say that they are Christian simply because they grew up in a family that happened to go to Church on Sundays.
The word “Christian” appears in the Bible three times: Luke writes in Acts 11:26 “…The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” And in Acts 26:28 King Agrippa tells Paul; “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” Then Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:16: “…but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.” In each case, the Greek word Christianos (khris-tee-an-os’) is used, which is translated “follower of Christ.”
So what does a person do to become a Christian?
Being a Christian is not about following rules or trying to be a good person. It is not going to Church, getting baptized or taking communion, although those are some of things Christians do. Surprisingly it is not even about believing in God. James tells us that even the demons believe in God (James 2:19).
There is really nothing one can “do” to become a Christian. We cannot recite a magic incantation or work our way there—Jesus did the work for us. Paul tells us that God wanted it this way, He gave us His grace, so none of us could boast about our own abilities (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Real Christians are simply people who have changed their minds about who Jesus is, they accept what God did for us through Him, and then they follow Him with their whole hearts. Changing our minds is called repentance.
What changed my mind was that I finally internalized the meaning of being a Christian, in other words I got the a-ha’ moment! I really understood that what Jesus did for me was to give His life to save mine. Then He performed one of the greatest miracles ever, that many of my science colleagues would say is impossible, He resurrected from the grave and defeated the permanency of death so that we would know that there is hope beyond the grave.
A lot of people in our culture today say Christians are hypocrites. Yes, they can be! When a person changes their mind about something it usually takes time, often a lot of time to walk through that change. That is exactly the kind of person Jesus came to help–those who know they need to follow Him but fall down a lot doing it!
Think of it this way: A person decides to get married, they “change their mind” about being single. They become a husband or wife but they don’t really know how to be one. It takes time and practice and they make a lot of mistakes along the way. It is the same with Christianity. Once a person changes their mind and accepts what Jesus did for them they become a Christian and can now begin their journey following Him, probably making a lot of mistakes along the way.
As a former high school varsity coach and athlete of sort, I understand the importance of committing to time and practice. We make all kinds of mistakes as we learn how to play, but as Christians we have a ‘Coach’ that will correct us, pick us up when we fall, and comfort us when we are injured. Once we accept Jesus and change our minds about following him we automatically make the team! This life becomes our practice field and if we don’t practice we’ll be sitting on the bench, and those that don’t want any part of it won’t be forced to be on the team. I know I’m on the team but I don’t want to sit on the eternal bench, do you?
Jesus was pretty clear as to how to be on His “team,” here are just a few examples:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out many demons and perform many miracles?’ Then, I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!'” Matthew 7:22-23
Get in the game, be on the team and get to know Jesus!
Let me know what you think:
A lot of people believe many things about this life and eternal life, but significantly less have a personal relationship with Jesus. Only those who enter the narrow gate by way of Jesus will spend eternity in Heaven, Jesus’ house by the way.
- Whose house do you want to live eternity in?
- Should you get to know the owner of the house and spend some time with Him?
For further reading I highly recommend: The Gospel of John, and then the rest of the historical documents on Jesus’ life found in the Christian Bible.
Join us next week as we continue our Case for Christianity!
In these posts I am going to continue to present logical reasoning and sound scientific evidence not found in the public school textbooks.
This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?
Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15