What is a Christian?

Over the weekend a local newspaper put an interesting article on their website entitled “The Hijacking of the word Christian”  written by Bryan Patterson who writes on a religious blog for the news website.  Mr. Patterson points out that the name Christian is being used by many people who are doing decidedly unchristian things such as an Oregon man firebombing a mosque referring to himself as a “Christian Warrior”, or the man who killed the teens in Norway claiming to be Christian.  This misuse of the name Christian is nothing new since people claiming to be Christians were part of the Spanish inquisition, crusades, and slavery prior to the civil war.

Somewhere along the way its has become popular to call your Christian, and whether you have a true relationship with Jesus is irrelevant.  Whether it’s the politicians calling themselves Christian in order to get the conservative vote, the singer who after receiving an award for their violent song filled with drugs and profanity thanks God, or right-wing extremists who use the term to defend their actions the term Christian is being used by many different people.  And unfortunately very few of them are truly Christian.

Mr. Patterson believes we should give up the word Christian altogether and just focus on loving God and other people.  I prefer to believe that the name Christian should be defined with specific characteristics of a true Believer.  That doesn’t mean we become close minded about the definition (everyone must meet MY understanding of what a Christian should be) but there should be better understanding of what Christians believe and how they should live.  This will help true Christians understand who is their brother or sister and Christ, and the ones who are using the name Christian for their own benefit.  A few characteristics are listed below but I would love to get ideas from others as together we answer the question, “what does a true Christian look like?”


1.  A Christian has accepted Jesus as their Savior:  The first step towards becoming a Christian is being saved which involves confession of sin, belief that God sent His son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins then arise on the third day, and ask Jesus to cleanse us from our sins.  One way to determine whether or not someone is just using the word Christian is asking them how they were saved.

2.  A Christian will live a changed life:  It’s possible for Believers to sin and reject God’s Will for their lives but they will be miserable doing it.  The Holy Spirit will convict these individuals of sin and call them to repentance through submission the Lord.  Those who hijack the word Christian have no problem living a sinful life because the Holy Spirit doesn’t dwell in them.

3.  A Christian will tell others:  It’s also possible that some Christians are too afraid to share their faith but in the end the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for their sins will lead every Believer to share the Gospel with others.  Whether it’s through a personal testimony, handing out tracts, having a conversation about God, or inviting unsaved friends to Church the people of God will give the Gospel to others.  Those who aren’t true Christians will do everything in their power not to share the Gospel.


Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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