I have written about falls from grace before — The selfish and hedonistic attitude that I see angers and grieves me. It also gives me an opportunity to tell you what doesn’t make you a Christian. Many people claim to be Christian, but are they?
I grew up in church with vacation Bible School and Sundays nodding off in a pew. I was around 10 when I was baptized in the Saline River. 8 years later, I was getting drunk at parties and passing out. Almost rolled into a fire once after I passed out.
Then I started going back to church a couple of years later. I even drove the church van to pick up kids. Once to avoid a truck I drove it into a ditch. Fortunately, it was only me in it at the time. Then pressure at work got to be too much for me and I folded so they wouldn’t pick on me. It did not work by the way.
I quit that job because of the bullying. At the next one, I would get drunk at a strip club with my boss. That stopped after I spent my rent and truck insurance on lap dances. I quit drinking after that.
Then I spent the next ten years doing better on my own strength. A few of those years are in the blog’s archives. I grew up in church. If I skipped church then I had to read my Bible. I did not act like a Christian the other days of the week, though. Why?
Because the more I think about it, the less I think I was actually saved. In one parable, Jesus told about those who fall away under pressure because they don’t have any roots. It is a favorite of mine in Mark 4: 1-20. The differences between then and now are startling.
What Doesn’t Make Someone a Christian?
- Checking a box that says they are a Christian.
- Growing up in a Christian home.
- Going to church.
- Being baptized.
- Doing good deeds.
- Keeping the rules.
A person can check one or all of these and still not be a Christian. It is not your heritage, culture, or behavior that makes you a Christian.
What Makes Someone a Christian?
- Admit they are not right with God. Imperfection will not meet the standards of perfection. (Romans 3: 10-18, 23; 6: 23)
- Realize that the only way to get right is through Jesus. (Romans 5: 8)
- Confess that Jesus is Lord, believe that he died to take the punishment for their transgressions, and rose again. Then they will be saved. (Romans 10: 8-13)
- Now they are justified by faith (Romans 5: 1) and there is no condemnation (Romans 8: 1) against them.
That is what makes someone a Christian. It is a relationship with Christ, not keeping a list of rules. If you could keep the list of rules, you wouldn’t need Jesus. All you have to do is be perfect.
There is more that happens other than a one-way trip to Heaven. God starts to work inside them. He gives them the power to walk away from their old way of life. His love fills their heart and they can love and forgive as he does.
What Does A Christian Look Like?
You can see them by their selfless love (John 13: 34-35) and the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. I touched on that in the previous post. This comes from having a relationship with Jesus and His strength (John 15: 4-8). I have tried; I don’t have it in me to love selflessly.
Yes, there are people that act like Christians. There are some who are Christians and just willfully disobedient. Jesus had some hard words for hypocrites in Matthew 23.
There are also immature Christians who are still learning to grow. You don’t go from sinner to saint in 3.2 seconds. John describes the level of growth in 1 John 2: 12-14. Some are admittedly stunted in their growth.
I beg that you don’t let a Christian’s failures —it will happen— keep you from Christ. Don’t look to us; look to Christ. Our misbehavior is the very reason we need Him.
Which of these areas do you fit in? Are you judging Christ because of his followers?