The following text is a copy of a note by Kristine Kruszelnicki. She posted it on Facebook and it was so relevant that I must share it with as many people as possible. She obviously put a lot of work into this.
What is a real Christian?
There are over 39,000 different “Christian” denominations out there, all of them claiming to have THE right version of the truth and being guided by the Holy Spirit and having correct doctrine. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that unless God is Schizophrenic (and scriptural evidence doesn’t allow for that option), God isn’t giving out 39,000 conflicting answers.
So if one wants to follow the pattern of Jesus, how can they know which Christian path is right and who the good and true Christians are? What is a Christian anyway?
You may have heard that the original definition of Christian was “little Christ” or more literally “Christ-follower”. You’ve probably also heard that a Christian is someone who’s “accepted Jesus into his heart as his/her personal saviour”. And while it’s true that the Bible declares salvation by grace through faith along with assurance of forgiveness of sins past, present, and future; true Christ-following is supposed to be a lot more radical and all-demanding than getting a heaven-pass and living life like before – just switching out a few words from your vocab, or swapping secular books and artists for “Christian ones”.
Quickly consider the following passages that speak of life for the early Christians:
“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”
1 Corinthians 4:11-13
“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
Um… not exactly your typical churchian culture of comfy pews and singing happy Jesus songs once week is it? I’ve yet to see a church banner advertising: “Come become the scum of the earth!”
Christ said that there are clear ways you would know who His true followers are, if you find any; I’ve included the more obvious ones and the verses (Do take the time to read them through – many are quite startling statements) below:
1. They love others (even enemies) as Christ loved them… willing to give up their own lives.
John 13:34-35 [Jesus speaking]
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 4: 19-20
“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
1 John 3:16 -18
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
Luke 6: 27-28 [Jesus speaking]
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” [This is radical teaching!]
2. They do what He says and they follow His commands:
John 14:21 (also John 15:10) [Jesus speaking]
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Luke 6:46-49 [Jesus speaking]
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?… But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
3. They are self-sacrificing, choosing to die to themselves and their own desires and selfish ambitions, daily.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
1 John 2:15-16
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
John 12:24 [Jesus speaking]
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
4. They are servants, submitting and giving up their own wants for the benefit of another person
John 13:14 [Jesus speaking]
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
5. They strive to follow His sinless example
1 John 1:6-7
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”
1 John 3:9
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”
(Also see Romans chapter 6)
6. They won’t be popular, in the majority, or extremely numerous:
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”
Matthew 7:21-23 [Jesus speaking]
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
7. They live within in a reversed economy:
“whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.””
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
“For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
8. They will be hated and persecuted
Matthew 10:22 (also found in Mark 13:13) [Jesus speaking]
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
John 15:19 [Jesus speaking]
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
John 15:20 [Jesus speaking]
“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
2 Timothy 3:11-13
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
John 16:33 [Jesus speaking]
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(See Matthew 24:9, Matthew 5:10-12 and Luke 6:22 for more)
9. Amongst other followers, they strive to be peacemakers, giving and living humbly and in unity with one another
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
“speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
10. They will overcome evil and sin and stand firm until the end
“They overcame [the evil one] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives, even onto death.”
1 John 5:3
“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.”
Ultimately, am I a true Christian to that degree of surrender and abandon? I’m sure I’m not. Selfishness and personal ambition, along with fear, doubt, and issues with my past churchian upbringing, are stumbling blocks in my own path… But if Jesus was and said as the historical record indicate – and there is much evidence that the documentation of Jesus (Yeshua as his name actually was) is reliable to teach us about this astounding man and the example He was to mankind, then it only makes sense to embrace fully His counter-cultural approach to life which involves loving your ennemies, giving to the poor, giving up everything you have and want to do for yourself, in order to follow the only one truly worth it all and more…