What Is A Christian?
I purposefully have avoided theological definitions of how one becomes a Christian…there are 2000 years of those discussions already on record.
A Christian is a person who has chosen to believe in and follow Jesus Christ and thus lives a life that reflects the teachings and ethos of Christ as recorded in the New Testament.
These attitudes and behaviors are distinct from the surrounding culture and are centered on a love for God and neighbor…neighbor is defined in the NT as being anyone who needs loved by God or man.
It cannot be stressed enough that the primary characteristic of the biblically defined Christian is love…anger, strife, and division are explicitly given as being in opposition to the Christian ethos.
The Christian is expected to gather with other believers in Jesus Christ to form Christ centered communities that demonstrate the other worldly nature of the faith by their actions in the prevailing culture. Their devotion to the counter cultural ways of Jesus is seen by the society through acts of sacrificial love, service, generosity of spirit, and love.
This love begins with fellow believers and extends out to the world…even toward, maybe especially toward, those who would declare themselves enemies.
It is noted throughout Scripture that the people of God are always to be a recognizably separate people from the cultures they live in…they live as aliens and strangers in whatever country they dwell in.
Instead of representing an earthly political entity, they represent the kingdom of the soon coming King…and the ways in which the world will be set to right at His appearing.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”(1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
The conflation of the kingdom of God with any earthly nation or political entity distorts and defiles the message of Christ and the presentation of the kingdom of God.
Anything that distracts from the distinct nature of the church as a foretaste of the eschaton does the same.
A true Christian is not simply someone who has chosen faith in Christ to escape the wrath of God, but someone who is a disciple, a follower of all the teachings of Christ, living out a cruciform life with other Christians as a testimony to the world of the One they follow and His kingdom.