In the book of Acts, we are told that the believers were first called “Christians” at Antioch. What we’re not sure of is whether that was meant to be a compliment, or a derogatory statement. The word “Christian” means “little Christ.” Regardless of what the world intended that word to mean, it sounds like a badge of honor to me. If the world even sees a little bit of Jesus in me, that is cause to rejoice!
The world around us has always sought to influence. It pushes products and images all in an effort to make a profit and increase the comfort level (usually to increase profit). We like comfort, and anything that makes us uncomfortable is an unwelcome intrusion. “Men love darkness instead of light, because their deeds are evil.” We don’t want light to shine in the dark places of our hearts because we don’t want to have to admit that something is wrong. We want…and expect God to accept us just as we are and anything that might speak to the contrary is an enemy. Which means Truth is an enemy.
Jesus said that his disciples would be a city on a hill and a light on a lampstand. They would give light to all…even to those who don’t want it. I heard it aptly stated that “truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth.” In the world’s effort to conform everyone to our own image, we will berate, belittle, and accuse anything and everyone who differs in belief from us. When the world cries for tolerance, what we mean is we want everyone to think like we do. When the world implores us to celebrate diversity, what we mean is that we want everyone to fall in line with our thinking. When that doesn’t happen, we get angry and defensive. This most often happens with those among us who have surrendered to Jesus Christ because he rules our thinking and claims exclusive rights to our beliefs and worldview. We answer to his standard, not anyone else’s.
When Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty came under fire for answering a question honestly in regard to sexual sin and immorality, a representative of GLAAD quipped that Phil wasn’t being very Christian in his statements and beliefs. My question is, how does this person think a Christian should act? Where do they get their standard? It’s possible this person has read a Bible, but I highly doubt they’ve really sought to understand it. I have, in fact, spent a number of years reading, studying, and seeking to understand and I’m still putting the pieces of what is called “the Christian life” together. It’s much bigger than my narrow mind first assumed. Let’s face it, regardless of which person we’re talking about, people in general are not a good source to find the definition of what makes a good Christian.
The irreligious and unbelieving world wants to cast off the authority of God. They don’t want to submit to his authority. They refuse to give him glory, honor, praise, and thanks for his many, many blessings. They use him as a scapegoat to shoulder the blame for all the wrong in the world. They basically want to put mankind – themselves – in God’s place of lordship. This is not at all a good source for the definition of a good Christian. Many times I’ve had people try to manipulate me by accusing me of not acting Christian. What they mean is that I’m not being “nice,” coddling them and allowing them to stay comfortable in their sin and rebellion. Not in a mouthy, accusing, offensive, confrontational way – that really isn’t my style, but in a natural, honest, speak-the-truth-in-love, and simply-let-your-light-shine kind of way.
Jesus said, “A servant is not above his master. If they hated me, they will hate you as well.” The world hates Jesus and would love nothing more than to discredit him and redefine him. The world does the same to those who follow him and reflect him. But the world isn’t limited to the irreligious and unbelieving. There are those who call themselves Christian who look nothing like Christ. Some look just like the depraved and immoral world we live in. They justify their sin and pull the grace card out, using it like a license to sin. Others err on the other side and make a god out of religion and tradition – rejecting and accusing the saints who don’t submit to their god. You’re not Christian if you worship on a different day. You’re not Christian if you judge my debauchery. You’re not Christian if you listen to that music. A good Christian wouldn’t call that behavior sin or say God doesn’t accept those who don’t believe in Jesus. With all these opinions and preferences, where can we go for a solid answer? What does a good Christian look like?
A good Christian looks like Jesus. Jesus, who was “gentle and humble in heart.” Jesus, who loved the sinner, and gave his life to destroy sin. Jesus, who was the embodiment of loving kindness to the brokenhearted, and the hammer of judgment to the proud and hard of heart. Jesus, who brought healing to the leper, the deaf, the blind; and who drove out the cheats and the swindlers from the Temple with a whip, flipping their tables and scattering their stuff to kingdom come. Jesus, who never spoke a harsh or accusing word to the sin stained woman at the well in Samaria, yet never dodged the issue of her sin either. A good Christian is devoted to God and his living word, not the fleeting opinions of the world around them. A good Christian has a zeal for the honor and glory of the Lord. A good Christian is committed to being in the yoke with Jesus, on his mission. A good Christian values nothing in this world more than he values his communion with God. But please, don’t take my word for it. Open the Bible and find it for yourself. Let your resolve this year be to pursue Christ, and to become like him – not measuring yourself against other people, or even God’s work in them, but being committed to follow where Jesus leads you. We can learn from each other, and be encouraged by each other. We can challenge each other and share our faith’s journey with one another. In fact, we need to live this way if we are to truly know Christ. When it comes down to it, at the end of the day, a good Christian answers to Jesus, not to man.