Summary: Four Chacteristics of a true Christian
“And You Call Yourself a Christian!”
November 3, 2017
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
It was about 1961 or ’62 in Wirt, Minnesota. I had just done something bad or mean (probably picking on my little sister.) I was in junior high school and she was a couple of years younger than me. Whatever I did made her really mad and she turned around and snapped at me – “And you call yourself a Christian!” Her words were dripping with scorn and disapproval. My mouth dropped open as she flipped around and ran off to tell mom. I was a little puzzled by her remark. I yelled after her, “I never claimed to be a Christian!”
Even the world knows what a Christian should look like; even a child has a pretty good idea of how a Christian should act. We all have a God given built in standard of right and wrong and we know a Christian should do what is right. A Christian tends to be kinder, gentler and more forgiving than the world when evaluating someone’s actions. The world can be quite harsh in its assessment and judgment of the Christian.
In the most recent surveys I found that 83% of Americans claim to be Christian. That doesn’t quite jive with Jesus words when He said,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
In my study only 4% of people in America claim to be any other religion. The other 13% don’t claim any religion. They are atheist or not sure. Of the 83% of those who claim to be Christian less than 20% go to church regularly. 17.7% of people who claim to be Christians go to church on any given Sunday. Apparently Jesus’ definition of who is going to heaven is quite different than the world’s or even Christendom’s. According to our scholar, most people are going to heaven in America -83%. In Jesus’ evaluation only a few find the way to eternal life. The gate to heaven is small and narrow, He says, and only a few find it.
Who are the few that find it? What do they look like? What does a Christian look like? Well, our Scripture in Acts told us the followers of Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch. Why were they called Christians? Because they looked and acted like Christ did. What a compliment! Wouldn’t you like someone to think you act and look just like Jesus? How sweet is that! But that is what the word ‘Christian’ actually means. Christian means ‘Christ-like’.
If you want to be a true Christian – you need to know what Jesus is like and emulate Him. And the main characteristic of Jesus is 1) love. Jesus said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16