What does it mean to be a Christian?
All over the world, many people regard those who go to church on Sundays as Christians, and sometimes people who simply bear Christian names like Paul, Peter, Dorcas, Esther and so on, are believed to be Christians.
In some other cases, those who were baptized as infants and people who regularly indulge in certain religious activities, festivals and ordinances, and the like are regarded as Christians.
However, a Christian is much more than the above descriptions.
What is a Christian?
The word Christian was derived from the Greek word, ‘Ecclesia‘, which means ‘called out‘. Thus, a Christian is a disciple or follower of our Lord Jesus Christ who has been called out of spiritual darkness and wickedness which is prevalent in our society today. Such an individual is simply Christ-like.
The word, Christian appeared for the first time in Acts 11:26 which says,
”And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught many people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”.
It is quite instructive that the Disciples of Christ were called Christians by people who themselves were non-Christians or unbelievers in Antioch, which is in present-day Syria, a heathen nation.
Obviously, these Disciples of Christ must have exhibited exemplary Christ-like traits in terms of conduct, comportment, faith, utterances, and so on, to have earned them the appellation: Christian! Needless to say, a Christian is a true disciple of Christ who obeys the word of God and continues in the same (John 8:31).
In other words, a Christian is an ex-sinner who now possesses the attributes of Christ, including holiness, humility, and compassion, love, to mention a few.
It must be noted that no human being comes into this world as a saint, as attested to by King David in Psalm 51:5,
”Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”.
Accordingly, we must repent of all our sins, including the ones committed from birth or infancy before we can really be qualified to be called Christians.
Acts 3:19 says,
”Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”.
This implies that repentance precedes conversion, in which case one now becomes a servant of righteousness. Romans 6:18 says, ”Being then made from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness”.
Thus, a Christian is not a sinner and neither is a sinner a Christian!
A New Creation
In the light of 1 Corinthians 6:7-10, a Christian is not expected to be a cheat, liar, thief, drunkard, extortionist, scammer, idolater, adulterer, fornicator, homosexual or any other kind of sinner. He is actually supposed to be above board and miles ahead of non-Christians in morality and other issues.
Furthermore, a Christian is a born-again fellow and a new creature in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says,
”Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new”.
The moment an individual becomes a Christian, his language. dressing, character, and general disposition cum orientation will automatically change. For instance, if he used to be a fornicator, adulterer, thief, smoker, or whatever, he will immediately quit all sinful activities and indulgences and will even have hatred for them (Please read Ephesians 4:22-32 for more insight).
Finally, Christians are heaven-bound saints as spelled out in Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:14-15.
In the light of the issues raised above, the question comes back to you: Are you really a Christian? This is food for thought for all professing Christians.