10th March 2011

What Makes You A Christian?

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ… For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
Romans 8:9, 14 (NIV)

What identifies a Christian? Someone who goes to church faithfully every week? Someone who prays and studies the Bible diligently every day? Someone who never seems to sin? Someone who is always helping other people? Someone who sings songs enthusiastically in church (maybe with arms raised)? Someone who prays inspiring prayers? Someone who preaches inspiring sermons? Someone who has lots of theological knowledge? Someone who is a member of “the one and only true church”?

Not necessarily—some murderers have been like that! You could say that living in a Christian home doesn’t make you a Christian any more than living in a garage makes you a car! You can do, or be, those things (and some people have and do), but still not be a Christian according to the biblical definition—set out in Romans chapter 8, as above. If you have the Holy Spirit of God living in you, you are Christ’s. If you are led by the Spirit you are God’s children. It’s very simple.

We sometimes doubt ourselves and we certainly doubt others! Perhaps only God truly knows who are his and who is really in the Body of Christ (which is the only true Church and not any one human denomination). But maybe we can get some good indications for ourselves as well as others by considering some other scriptures.

For instance, Jesus himself said in John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. Or Colossians 1:19-20: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” God wants all people to become Christians.

How are you doing in love, laying down your life (time), unity, reconciliation and peace? Not so good? Me neither. Well cheer up! Jesus said in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”—it is a process. That’s what he’s been doing for 2,000 years, is still doing today, and will into the future—if we let him. He hasn’t finished with us yet. We are not perfect, but he will guide us towards it and reshape us into Jesus’ image—if we are willing. Are you?

Finally, a topical quote from British soul/gospel singer Mica Paris: “I’ve spent thousands on people at Christmas and wondered why. As you get older, you realise it’s not about that, it’s about what you are like all year round.”

Wonderful God—Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit—thanks so much for the miracle of your living in us through your Spirit. Help us always to remember this and to live for, and be led by you as true Christians.

Study by Brian Smith 

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