Who or What is a Christian?

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According to my children, I am a history geek! Of course that comes from my children who are all history geeks! Perhaps it is in part because many of the courses I once taught included the word “History” in the title. Now that I’ve confessed my geekishness (is that even a word?), I will also admit that my favorite part of history involves the history of God’s people.

One of the earliest writings by Christians outside of the New Testament (c. 130 AD) is known as The Letter of a Disciple to Diognetus. No one knows who Diognetus was nor who the Christian author was. There is speculation that he was a disciple of the Apostle John but nothing that can be confirmed.

What we do know is that Christian Apologetics, defending the faith to unbelievers, has been a part of preaching and teaching from the beginning of our Lord’s church (see Peter’s first sermons and speeches in Acts).

What we also know is that his defense of Christianity comes at a time when persecutions were increasing and the faith of believers was being challenged by the world. In other words, in a time much like ours!

Let’s consider what this writer had to say:

Who or What Is A Christian?

Christians live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.

They marry and have children just like everyone else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present “in the flesh” but they do not live “according to the flesh.” They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives.

They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.

Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evil doers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.

To put it simply — the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians through all the cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but not of the world.

Like most lessons, our challenge is to move these things from the classroom into our everyday lives. Remember, we are the light of the world and we are the ones required to let the world see the good that God might be glorified (Matthew 5:14-16).

It is easy for us as Christians to be overwhelmed by the worldly ways around us. Because we see and hear it so much we can end up responding to life’s difficulties just like the world does. Jesus reminds us several times that while we are “in” this world we are not “of” this world (cf. John 15:19; 17:14, 16). Paul challenges us to not conform to or be like this world so that we will show God’s will in and around us (Romans 12:2).

The daily challenges we face in living like Christians are not new, indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ have faced them from the very beginning. The test for us here and now is to recognize our challenges, face them with resolute determination and use the power of God to overcome.

An old saying challenges us with a question: If you were charged with being a Christian and taken to court, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

We have countless opportunities to show who we are as God’s people and to teach others about Jesus! Are YOU involved in WBS or WEI? Are YOU contributing to our special contribution for World Christian Broadcasting? If NOT, what ARE you doing for Jesus? Who or what are YOU?

Let’s determine that, with God’s continued help and blessing, we will act like who we really are! Let’s resolve to better share the Good News with those lost in sin! Let’s be more ready and willing to encourage each other and remember we are the King’s family and not of this world!

— Lester P. Bagley

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