What is a Christian

It's sometimes easier to say what a Christian is not, than what a Christian is. Someone is not a Christian because they were born in the Western World, or born into a Christian family, or have been christened, or was educated in a Church School, or attends Church regularly. All those people may be Christians, but it is also possible to do all those things and not be a Christian.

A Christian is someone who has made a decision to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. The Bible says, in 1 John chapter 2, 'Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.' Being a Christian is not solely about what we do on a Sunday or being kind and helpful to others, it is solely about being in a relationship with God, our Heavenly Father, through our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and being obedient to His teaching - which, by the way, will include church on Sunday and being kind and helpful to others, but we do it out of our love for Him!

We were created to be in a relationship with God. The first created people enjoyed a close relationship with God, but they decided that they knew better than Him and took their first step in living independently of Him. We've been doing that ever since! And when we live independently of God, we are spiritually dead. We are physically alive, but spiritually dead. And the only way we can become spiritually alive - that is, have a close relationship with God - is if God gives life to that spiritual part of our being. Some people call this being 'born again' - we had a physical birth on the day we were born, and now we need a spiritual birth.

Becoming a Christian requires that you first of all acknowledge that you have been living your life independently of God. You have been the one in control of your life - and perhaps sometimes it has felt as if you are not in control at all, or have not made such a good job of it! Now you realise that the one who created the world has a better handbook for life than the one you wrote for yourself. Living life independently of the Creator of life, making your own choices about how you live and what you do without any reference to God, is simply called 'sin'. Some people don't like to think of themselves as 'sinners', because they consider themselves to be nice people, and the word 'sin' implies we're really 'bad' people. Perhaps it is easier if we consider sin to mean that we are thoughtless people - we live without any thought for God and His rules. Some people are put off by this, thinking Christianity is all about what you can't do any more, but Jesus said, 'My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life' (John 10:10 NLT)

Christianity is not an easy option; it is not a 'crutch' as some would call it. Becoming a Christian should be a considered choice and a lifetime commitment to putting Christ first in our lives. Jesus said, 'If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else - your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even your own life. Otherwise you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don't begin until you count the cost.' (Luke 14:26-28 NLT) In other words, are you prepared to put following Jesus before everything else? Are you prepared to take the decision that in future you will not live independently of God? Do you want the 'rich and satisfying life' Jesus promises to those who trust Him? Do you want to be free from the power of sin in your life? Do you want to take your hands off the controls, and hand over to God?

No one who is a Christian will tell you this is easy. No one who is truthful will tell you they do not constantly fail. Once you take the first step, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in you to help you. But the message should be clear - if you are not serious about giving Him permission to do this work, don't take the first step.


Becoming a Christian

How do I become a Christian?