Growing up as a kid hearing thousands of sermons and gleaming from alot of differing views and stances from a many diverse group of preachers and teachers. Trying to find what “A Real Christian” is supposed to look like, talk like, act like and so fourth can be a very difficult and complex thing to do.
Especially when Christendom has birthed such a wide spectrum of differing characters.
I mean we have Todd White and Charles Stanley sharing our same Lord! Throw in Johnny Cash, T.D. Jakes, Dave Mustaine and Joel Osteen.
I mean even Bob Marley denounced Rastafarianism and embraced Jesus Christ as Lord before going on home to be with him. Bob Dylan in the 70’s went public and more recently and quite popularly Brian (Head) Welch from the hardcore band Korn claims Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
I can go on and on but I’m sure you get my point. Bono and Bill Johnson both love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ!
So the question that this kind of eclectic and diverse Christianity has always left me with was what is it exactly that truly defines a genuine believer in Christ?
Is it morals? A clearly defined list of do’s and don’ts that we all faithfully adhere to? Is it whether one drinks or not? Are we defined by a certain style of dress or political agenda? Are we defined as being a people who indulge not in things that many others in our world may?
To a degree I admit that much of the above does bear some truth on who we have become as Christians but I do not believe that this should be the defining factor of our genuine conversion.
If Bono goes out with the boys this weekend and indulges in too much Shiner Bock awakening tomorrow to feel like he has been hit by a train, I would not say that he was any less my brother or child of Our Father God who art in heaven.
Likewise, if ones claim to fame and holiness has been that they never indulge, never miss a tithe, have never been late for church, never lose their temper and on and on and on…
I would honor you and consider you just as much my brother and sister in Our Lord!
So with all of this above and noting that a lifestyle of restraint and self discipline (A fruit of God’s Spirit in our life) does indicate maturity and growth as a Christian,
I wouldn’t say that this should be Christianity’s defining factor any more than it is likewise for many other world religions.
The simple truth is that I know Muslims who hold to laws such as abstinence from alcohol much more admittedly than many Christians I know. So when a Christian walks around for example claiming abstinence from alcohol as a sign of their faith and relationship with Jesus. What happens to that testimony and work of God in their life when they decide to indulge one night at a wedding or at someones backyard BBQ?
If our defining factor as Christians is for example how well we look after and take care of our temple’s (Our Bodies) which is a very important thing to do and should be done. Then how do we look serving coffee cake and cookies at church all the time and buying pizza’s for all our youth group gatherings?
I mean there our Hindu’s I know whose diet and exercise practices would put much of our Christian’s physical maintenance habits to sad shame.
Again let me emphasis “Self Discipline” and “Moderation” is a much needed and well welcomed fruit and should be desired fruit of God’s Spirit in our Christian lives but let me also warn about us wrongly mistaking this beautiful fruit (that comes) with maturity for being the root and center of our Christian lives. To me this would be as illogical as putting the cart before the horse or the apple before the tree.
The truth is that as Jesus becomes more a part of our daily walk. Everything changes and any unhealthy, self destructive bad habits that the enemy is using to hurt and harm our lives simply just have to go.
This is a an amazing perk in following Christ!
but this is not in reference to ones occasional indulgence of beer or coffee cake!
As I see it.
Jesus in us! Our Hope of Glory!
Should be our defining characteristic as Christians!
He is The Vine and we are the branches (See John 15)
The Presence, Peace, Wisdom, Power, Faith and Love of God radiating from our lives and rippling effectually into the lives of those our lives touch.
This should be what defines us.
It’s who we are. Children of The Most High God created in his image and designed to carry his DNA here on Earth as it is in Heaven!
This is what should be our defining factor as Christians.
Not whether one enjoys an occasional beer or burger or not.
“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ~Luke 7:33-34
Let me leave you with this… after we get all of our own standards of righteousness and legalism out of our passionate pursuits. After we are found by and receive Jesus who reveals to us the heart and Love of God Our Father.
What we should ultimately find beyond all else as our defining factor is His Love!
First, His unfailing and unconditional Love for us regardless of our current hang ups and weaknesses. Then we should begin to know his undying and unconditional love for those all around us. Regardless of their current hang ups and weaknesses.
Then all of our authority, power, healing and gifting’s from The Holy Spirit flow to us and through us… equipping and empowering us in Christ’s mandate to further Love!
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
~ John 13:35
It really is sort of a shame that judgement’s of one another in Christendom has been what many in our world have seen. Judgement over Love.
All of our differing doctrines, bibles and English interpretations of Hebrew, Greek and Latin scriptures. All of our theologies created to justify our lack of power when the real issue has been our inability to know and receive Real, Powerful and Forgiving Love.
So in the end of all of my musings on this (hopefully unifying) and what needs to be unraveled topic.
Let me conclude with this…
When looking for the genuine article. When seeking out the real deal holyfield.
When wanting to know if this person or people are really about The God they say they are.
My suggestion would be that instead of looking at what people do or don’t do and instead of scrutinizing what eschatology or theology one does or does not subscribe to (which will always and inevitably leave us all at the door of judgement and offence.)
I suggest and implore!
If you both consider yourselves brothers and sisters in Christ.
Children of The Most High God Our Father!
Perhaps we should all first start with some genuine acceptance and Love.
“Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” ~ 1st Corinthians 13:5