What life should a Christian live to be Christian?

(Richard Wright) #21

Hello Mitchell,

"Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:25-6)

"Very truly I tell you, 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." (John 12:24)

Jesus would highly disagree with your sentiment. We are called to die to our own lives and live obedient (yes obedient!) lives as his followers.

Not quite, he said if we, “hold to (obey) his teachings”, then we will know the truth, and it will set us free. (John 8:32).

This is simply not supported in scripture. What’s right is live as a follower of Jesus Christ, and there is obedience involved. The inspiration is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and we are called by Jesus to be his disciples. If you want to say that is trying to please a deity, fine, but there is nothing biblically wrong with that.

I’m sorry, but that is not what it means. What it means is that Jesus followers live by faith, repenting of sins and leading a disciplined when the world doesn’t, suffering abandonment and possibly at times, persecution.

(Mitchell W McKain) #22

I do not entirely disagree with you. My answer was a little one sided. There is a greater liberty in what Christianity is offering because the freedom from sin is the greater freedom.

But… part of the problem is that legalists and religion mongers which God Himself rails against in Isaiha chapter one like to equate sin with disobedience as a prelude to justifying lording it over people themselves, equating obedience to God with obedience to them and their dictates. So for them it is all about power. Their god is power. Their use of Christianity is power over other people – a tool of manipulation only. It is dangerous form of Christianity and I will side with the atheists against it as something evil to be eradicated.

(Shaun) #23

So generally a Christian is a person who claims to be a Christ follower. But there’s no guarantee what he truly believes or how he interprets the Bible.

(Shawn T Murphy) #24

Shaun, I define a true Christian as someone who is Christ-like. It is not really that important what you believe, but how you act. Jesus demonstrated a very narrow path for us to follow including loving our enemies, caring for the least of our brothers, and praying for all of God’s children.
Best Wishes, Shawn

(Mitchell W McKain) #25

The problem is that is going tend to be little insulting to non-Christians who may really do most everything you include in that category but do not believe in any of the theology of Christianity. It is hard to escape the fact that the word Christian and Christianity is primarily about a religion and so it is far more reasonable define this according to the beliefs which distinguish this religion from others and simply acknowledge that this isn’t the same as being good, Godly, or even saved – since all of that is really only for God to say rather than any of us sinners who are most likely more than a bit deluded in various ways anyway.

Say rather that being a “good Christian” isn’t just about belief but about being Christ-like, and that yes, it is far more important how you act than what you believe. I think you can even say that God’s perspective on who really believes in Him (and for a Christian that includes a belief in Jesus) is likely to be a bit different than our own and probably has a great deal more to do with how we live our lives rather than whatever gobble-dee-gook we like to tell ourselves about what we supposedly believe.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #26

Guarantees are pretty hard to come by (much less find reliable) on the human front of pretty much anything. But that isn’t for lack of trying on the part of doctrinaire boundary guardians who would have you sign your name to a large, detailed lists of what you must believe to be approved within some Christian organizations or traditions. While it is obvious by how I speak here that I largely disapprove of those sorts of efforts, I nonetheless would not go so far as to say that what you believe isn’t important. It is.

But I would say rather that the way you live reveals what you really believe … hence making both things important.

(Shaun) #27

I agree with your definition based on my own story.

I had wandered around churches for many years before I met a Christian who behaved a little bit different than other Christians.

He taught us the Bible. But that’s not attractive. What attracted me was his character and behaviour. He’s caring, very friendly, very nice to us, and never burdened us. He always explained that God told him to do so, or he’s following God. Then I thought what if I or even everyone became someone like him? What a wonderful world we would live in! For that reason I became passionate about Christianity.

But the creation story? God’s power? They have no effect on me. Even if Jesus didn’t create the world, even if He’s not that powerful, I see no reasons not to follow him if following him means people can become someone like that Christian I mentioned above.

(Shaun) #28

I share mitchellmckain’s concern.

(Shawn T Murphy) #29

Dear Mitchell,
As @gmt writes below, a true Christian is seen through their actions not through their words. Jesus did not wear Christianity on His sleeve, he cared for all, regardless of their sins or beliefs.

I believe the teaching of Jesus and that He is the King of heaven, but you are right, I do not accept all of the manmade Christian doctrines. I am astonished that it is insulting to many who call themselves Christians, but I cannot do anything about that.
Best Wishes, Shawn

(Jay Johnson) #30

Sorry, Shawn, but this made me laugh.

“… is becoming Christ-like” is probably more accurate. As @Mervin_Bitikofer said, actions flow from beliefs, so both are important. Faith must have some sort of content. (Faith in who or what, exactly?) Also, it is not the action alone that concerns God, but the motivation. As Paul pointed out in 1 Cor. 13,

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing

The crux of the matter. Many evangelical Christians have confused belief with faith, as if carrying around the “right” beliefs about Jesus in their heads was a guarantee of heaven. Pray the “sinner’s prayer” and live life as you please, knowing that all is forgiven. Dallas Willard called this “barcode Christianity.”

Jesus didn’t criticize the Pharisees for trying to live according to the Law, but for focusing on the “lesser” rather than the “weightier” things, as in Matthew 23:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

The Pharisees’ actions appeared righteous, but their internal motivations (greed, self-indulgence, hypocrisy) rendered even their “good deeds” as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. So beliefs are important, since even right actions can be motivated by evil desires.

At Jesus’ baptism, a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” May we all hear those words one day!

Absolutely, obedience is involved! But I would suggest that Christian ethics goes far beyond rule-based obedience. Paul considered his ministry to believers to be that of discipleship, and his primary principle was “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1; Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 1:6). If we follow Jesus’ example, his focus was always the “weightier things” of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the ethics of interpersonal relations. The “lesser things” – tithing the tiniest amount of mint, cumin, and dill – are the rules related to personal piety.

Unfortunately, it seems the situation these days is reversed. The only “Christian ethics” that evangelicals seem to care about are related to personal piety and who’s having sex with whom, while justice, mercy, and faithfulness are “faithfully” ignored. When did we become the Pharisees?

(Shawn T Murphy) #31

Dear Jay,
My words are being taken out of context again. You left off the next part of what I said:

It is not if you believe in YEC or Mary as the mother of God, or Grace is the only way to get to Heaven. It is your inner intentions, as you said, that I was referring to. Yes, it is the Pharisees, the scribes and the priests we have to thank for all of the hypocritical behaviors and doctrines.
Best Wishes, Shawn

(Jay Johnson) #32

I wasn’t taking you out of context. I left off the next part of what you said because it was non-controversial and self-evidently true.

I can’t thank them for all of it. Some of it, I invented my ownself …

(Shawn T Murphy) #33

It is different beliefs that had turned Christians against Catholics and turned some Christians into radicals. This is why I say it does matter what you believe but how you act.

(Richard Wright) #34

Hello Mitchell,

Why would you side with the atheists? Are you an atheist?

(Mitchell W McKain) #35

No. I am a theist. 1.5 on the Dawkins scale to be more precise, because…

  1. I believe questioning all of your beliefs is required by honesty and mental health.
  2. I know God exists as well as I know anything. And so I live accordingly.
  3. Living according to your beliefs is the only meaningful definition of knowledge.

Being wrong about the existence of God doesn’t mean atheists are wrong about everything. For example, they are right that none of the proofs for the existence of God have any objective validity. So atheism is a rational alternative. And more importantly they have many legitimate complaints against religion. Furthermore, I don’t think theists are any more likely to be saved than atheists are. Doing good things for their own sake rather than because you are seeking to curry favor with God sounds closer to a righteousness based on faith and having the law of God written on their hearts.

Furthermore I think the battle mentality that many theists have, seeing atheists as the enemy, is leading them to a number of errors in both thinking and spirituality.

(Jay Johnson) #36

I agree. This is the Culture War attitude that has to go. It extends from seeing atheists as the enemy to seeing anyone and everyone outside the evangelical Republican camp as the enemy. Not accusing @Richard_Wright1 of any of this, but the great evangelical pastime these days seems to be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

(Phil) #37

Ultimately, the existence of God winds up being an assumption, though an assumption based on our life experience rather than objective criteria. This point was made in a book I am reading, Andy Walsh’s Faith Across the Multiverse, and in it he pointed out that this is essentially what the Preacher in Ecclesiastes is saying, in that life is futile objectively, but he ultimately finds meaning in faith in God.


How about, a Christian is a Christ-follower, regardless of what he/she might claim…?

(Shaun) #39

Maybe you mean what @Shawn_Murphy calls a true Christian.

What does a Christ follower mean? It may not be that clear. For example, Mother Teresa.

If I were sleeping on the street in freezing cold, I would call her hospitals heaven. I would call a prison heaven too! But what had she done to help the people in her hospitals support themselves? If people don’t try to support themselves, just feed on donations, is it the right way to live? Could they, after being baptised, be called Christians, i.e. Christ followers?

I have my own version of love. Love means people love each other, not to harm or hurt or burden each other or one burdens another because it’s unfair to those who are under the burden and it’s not sustainable. Sometimes, people may need help but should not feed on help. And they should try to help too, or try to do something to stop burdening others.

And, what if the people in her hospitals disagree with her? Do they have to be afraid of being expelled? If absolute obedience is the price for love, I feel insecure and insulted. But she’s not worried. Donation feeders rarely disagree.

And nobody doubts that she’s a Christian.
What would Christ call her?

(Christy Hemphill) #40

Mother Teresa offered compassionate care to desperately poor, sick people, regardless of their religion or social status. Most of them had no hope of recovery and were brought to her hospitals to die with some shred of human dignity. Are we really going to categorize them as “donation feeders” and fault them for being a “burden”? It was not Mother Teresa’s mission to provide job training and micro-loans.

Please let’s not get into a debate about what kind of service to the poor is truly “Christ-like” based on some kind of results metric or societal change index. Serving the poor and marginalized, no matter what form your service takes, is Christ-like. Jesus’ parables about the kingdom include several about throwing sumptuous feasts for beggars and outcasts. God’s idea of waste is not our idea of waste and manifestations of grace and love often don’t pass a cost/benefit analysis assessment.

One person’s life of love and service is not going to “fix” poverty and societal injustice. But every cup of cold water offered to a thirsty person in Jesus’ name has eternal value.