What Do We Mean by the Word Christian?
by Jim Gordon
What do people think of when they hear the word Christian? With some of the discriminatory and hateful happenings recently with extreme groups who claim to be Christian and with the rise of Christian Nationalism, I feel it is getting a little confusing what the real meaning is.
My wife and I have seriously questioned whether we should continue to use the word Christian to identify us or not. Basically, it all boils down to what we mean by Christian.
If being a Christian is being part of a religion that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on what denomination we belong to, then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is considered being part of a group that follows various spiritual beliefs such as Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics and others, then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other religions and only accepts those who believe like they do, then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian has anything to do with religion, political power, hatred, exclusion, discrimination and such, then no, we are not Christians.
In Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. They were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Jesus. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian, then we are all in.
There are many ways we can described ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Jesus, people of faith, people of the way or even Christians. Yet, the name itself does not really matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others, including others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, the name itself really makes no difference because we are not being like Christ.
We should not worry so much about the name we use, but by the way we live. When people see us, they should see Jesus. He lives within us and we should be known for the love we have for him and for our fellow man. We are to let Christ live through us each and every day to everyone we meet.
Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: email@example.com