I am a Christian. I want to get this out of the way because there seems to be some confusion about what a Christian is and what a Christian isn’t. This blog is my unschooled attempt to explain that. I hope you read it and share it because I believe what I have to say is important.
First what a Christian is. A Christian is someone who has come to believe in their heart that Jesus, born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth in what we now call Israel, died for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised from the dead so that we too could share eternal life with him.
That’s it. That is all of it. It’s pretty easy and it is offered to every man woman and child on the planet.
Now let’s deal with some basics. First Jesus was real. The Bible which tells his story and many others has been proven time and time again to be historically accurate. Several years ago a man named Lee Strobel was totally ticked off that his wife became a Christian. He was an investigative reporter for The Chicago Tribune and had won awards for his work. He was also a die-hard atheist. He decided to prove to his wife that Christianity was false and launched an all out investigation to prove his thoughts and to get those Crazy Christians out of his life. Bottom line, he couldn’t do it. He only found the historical accuracy of Jesus to be beyond dispute. He also found that Jesus was indeed one with God. Ultimately he became a believer and wrote a book about his experience called The Case For Christ. Read the book. I am not here to do all the work for you.
Now you could tell me sure, “I know Jesus existed. He was a great teacher and we should follow all that he said but he wasn’t one with God.” This my dear friend is a faulty argument. Here’s why. I am going to quote a man named CS Lewis. He was a Christian writer in the 1940s and 1950s. He too was an atheist. It was his friend JRR Tolkien who was a devout Catholic who presented to him an argument that he could not disprove. After his conversion, he became one of the most prolific Christian writers of the 20th century. You may be aware of his fantasy stories which are called The Chronicles of Nania. He also has a sci-fi series and a few other novels but his greatest works were the explanation of faith the greatest of these is Mere Christianity. You can watch a great film on his conversion titled, The Most Reluctant Convert. Did I telll you Lewis was also an Oxford professor? This man was seriously smart. Here is the quote it is from the book Mere Christianity.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
–C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
I can’t put it better. Either Jesus was who he said he was or he wasn’t. If he wasn’t, ignore the Bible completely because it is just words on paper. If he was I suggest you read every line. So far I have shown you that Jesus can be proven historically real and that you have a choice to make about what to do with him.
Let’s talk about sin. The word sin is an archery term. It simply means missing the mark. Or not hitting the bullseye if you will. As we come to know God we learn that He is perfect and nothing imperfect can stand in his presence. God created us to be perfect too and we would have been if not for the fall of man by his being disobedient to God. In order to restore us to perfection God first set up moral laws for us to follow. This is what Christians call The Old Testament. Those laws can be found in the first five books of the Old Testament. He also set up ways to atone for all the times man didn’t meet those laws. Those were the animal sacrifices of The Old Testament. But all through the Old Testament God makes promises that one would come that would change everything. Those promises are called prophecies and those prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. You can read this for yourself by reading Psalm 22 in the Old Testament and then read the last few chapters of The Gospels which are titled, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament. The comparison should amaze you considering those words were written about 2000 years apart. Psalms first and Gospels afterward, just to be clear.
Now let’s get back to sin. No one on this Earth except for Jesus has ever been perfect we all sin, or we all don’t hit the bullseye on a regular basis. Committing murder is a sin. But most of us haven’t done that. Telling a lie is a sin and all of us have done that. Jesus came to make us perfect in the eyes of God. He came to take away the sins of the world. Those sins are all forgiven, past present, and future when we accept in our hearts what Jesus did for us. This takes faith first and foremost. No one can pay for salvation. It is one hundred percent free. It’s a gift from a God who loves each and every one of us because he created and formed each and every one of us. All artists understand this anyone who has any creative juice in them at all understands this. When we create something, a mom who makes a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner is pleased with what she did. A Mechanic who fixes tunes up, and details a car can probably say he loves the work that he did, what we create, what we work on we feel good about it when it comes out right. God doesn’t make mistakes. God made each of us and none of us is a mistake. All of us at birth are beautiful in His sight. But then God did something radical. He wanted His creation to love Him and love cannot be forced on someone. Love is a choice. God gave us all free will to choose to love Him or to go our own way. When we choose to seek God and love Him we will find Jesus Christ. God is love. If we go to the New Testament and look up the famous love definition in the Bible in First Corinthians chapter 13 we can change the word love to God and get a full picture of how much He loves us.
This is what Christianity is all about. It’s about a God who loves us, a God who loves you my dear reader, who did all he could and gave all he had to bring his creation back to himself. Now it’s up to us to choose.
Now here is what a Christian is not. No Christain is to stand in judgment on any other human being. Are there Christians that do that? Yes!!! And they are far from God. Many people say they do things in God’s name. Evil things, things that make me extemely angry. People who call themselves Christians and approve of the bombing of abortion clinics. That’s not love. People who go to the funerals of gay men and women to tell the family that their loved one is burning in hell. That’s not love and that’s not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity tells us to do everything in love as outlined in First Corinthians 13. I was going to make you look that up, but no. Here is the what love is and what God is.
First Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Charles Dickens wrote the best explanation of the people who do evil things in the name of God or Jesus in his book A Christmas Carol. This is The Ghost of Christmas Present speaking but in some ways, he is, to me, The Christ figure in the book.
“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”
You can change the words “us” and “our” to “God” and “God’s” and you’ll see what I mean.
Here let me do it for you.
“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know God, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in God’s name, who are as strange to God and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not God.”
Christians are truly a mixed bag of people. We come in all colors. We all are different. Some of us smoke and drink. Some us are straight and some of us are gay. Some of us can cuss up a storm and some of us dance and sing and play cards. Some of us are overweight, and yes I’m working on that and some of us are recovering addicts. Some of us are addicts, caught in a web we are looking to break free from. We are all as different as different can be. We are all flawed. We simply have this in common. We found a God who loves us, we believed in Jesus who saved us and we want nothing more for those we know to come to know that same love.
Being a true Christian is all about love.