This may come as a shock to many of you but I am not a Christian. I was born one but then I was born again and it turns out the new me isn’t a Christian. For a long time I called myself a Christian but I have figured out that being a Christian requires me to self-identify in one or more of many sub groups. Once this has taken place I can then use my sub group title in place of the title Christian. As a matter of fact using your sub group title is highly encouraged to make sure that you don’t accidently strike up a relationship with someone from another sub group.
I make a terrible Calvinist and a bad Arminianist and that is just for starters.
Once I navigate the whole free will thing then I have to pick an end of times theology, a miraculous healing theology and a Holy Spirit theology. From there I will need to decide how God wants to bless me and whether my faith can influence the quantity and quality of this blessing. Once I have done this I must pick a style of worship and a style of community outreach based on the latest “how-to” church books.
By assessing my theological leanings and desired programing I then can choose the denomination that best fits my beliefs. Now I can proudly proclaim to others using the same title Christian, that I am a follower of Calvin or Armininius with a pre or post trib leaning whose faith supports him in times of difficulty or causes God to bless him so he doesn’t have these times. I can also proclaim that the old hymns or the new worship songs are the only way to worship God, programs or prayer are at the centre of a healthy church and that my denomination is the one with the most healthy churches.
As a Christian we are often asked to define ourselves by our understanding of how God works.
A faith that is supposed to be based on a God who is so far beyond human understanding often makes human understanding imperative to define that faith. It’s bad enough that defining one’s self as a Christian can have more to do with ancestry than faith, but it is even worse when defining one’s self as a Christian is less about following Christ and more about the teachings that best describe the God you are most comfortable with.
We are worried about taking the Christ out of Christmas but not about taking the Christ follower out of Christian.
I am a follower of Christ which for most people can be summed up by the word Christian, but what does that mean?
I follow Christ because He asked me to. I tell others about Christ because He asked me to. I live my life in a state of repentance and obedience because He asked me to. I ask for His healing touch and blessing because He asked me to. I remain in a state of readiness for His return because He asked me to.
I follow Christ, The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I do not fully understand how God works nor do I identify my following of Christ by the theories of theologians who have presented their insight into how God works. I follow Christ and Christ alone.
Okay, you can call me a Christian but only if you understand I am a Christ follower.
If we were to talk about our interpretations of various scriptures I don’t mind letting you know how I understand the way God works as long as you don’t assume that my understanding is at the root of my faith.
If we were to talk about the theories put forth by great theologians I don’t mind if you say I appear to lean toward a certain theory as long as you don’t assume that my leaning is at the root of my faith.
If we were to talk about current events and the end of the world I will make my best guess as to what it all means as long as you don’t assume that my guess is at the root of my faith.
If we were to dig our heels in and define what it is to be a Christian based on our own interpretations of various scriptures, our own acceptance of theories put forth by great theologians or our own best guess about current events and the end of the world, I would put an end to it. I do not want the best arguer to define the root of my faith.
The complexity of God presented in human terms can never fully explain how He works.
The root of my faith is that I believe in God’s plan for salvation through Jesus and have accepted all that comes with this belief as part of my way of life.
If I think I know how God worked out all the details I suggest that somehow I understand the creator of the universe, I don’t.
If I adopt the theories of others, following their take on how God worked out all the details I suggest that somehow they understand the creator of the universe, they don’t.
I cannot be a Christian by following anyone else but Christ. I don’t need to know how all this works just follow the one who does.
My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)