Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas
If you asked a hundred people what a Christian is, you would probably get at least a dozen different answers.
Some of them might define a Christian as a good person, a person who cares about other people and helps them.
Ironically, others might define a Christian as just the opposite: an intolerant person who doesn’t care at all about other people.
Some people might make reference to the Bible in their definitions. In their minds, a Christian is someone who believes the Bible is true.
Still others might point to Jesus, explaining that a Christian is a follower of Jesus, or that a Christian is someone who believes in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
What does the Bible say? What is a Christian according to the Bible?
On the surface, it’s really quite simple: a Christian is someone associated with Christ.
According to Acts 11:26, the name ‘Christian’ was first used in the city of Antioch, not by Christians themselves, but by their neighbors. It was a handy and remarkably accurate term for Jesus’ disciples. Just as we call people associated with Arkansas ‘Arkansans’, these early disciples who were associated with Christ were aptly called ‘Christians’.
Now for the hard part: what does that mean? What does it mean to be associated with Christ?
Nearly five centuries ago one of the Protestant Reformers raised that question and articulated a good, two-fold answer.
A Christian, he explained, is someone who by faith is a member of Christ. As 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 makes clear, all believers are members of Christ. Not merely in their identity, but in their very being, they are associated with him, God’s promised prophet, priest, and king.
Consequently, a Christian is also someone who lives accordingly.
As the same writer explained years ago, since Christ is the chief prophet who would perfectly reveal the will of God for our salvation, a Christian is someone who confesses his name, acknowledging Christ Jesus for who he said he is (Matt 10:32).
Further, since Christ is the only high priest who sets sinners free by the one sacrifice of his body, a Christian is someone who presents him or herself to Christ as a living sacrifice of thanks, which has far-reaching, whole-life implications when you think about it (Rom 12:1).
Lastly, since Christ is the eternal king who would govern and guard his people, a Christian is someone who strives against sin and the devil in this life (John 14:15).
Think about that definition. How does your everyday life reflect the reality that Jesus is the Christ?
For further study, read the passages mentioned above: Matt 10:32, Rom 12:1, and John 14:15.