Not long after I committed my life to Christ in 2008, I had lunch with a friend I had known for several years. When he asked me what was new and I told him I had become a Christian, he asked three questions:
What does it mean to “become a Christian?”
So, how are you different?
Can you still play golf and drink scotch?
Each one of these questions was so interesting and, frankly, stumped me a little bit both because of what they meant about my friend’s understanding of Christianity and about what I was really committing to by calling myself a Christian. So, for the next few weeks, I’m exploring both sides of each of these questions. This week, I’m focusing on “What does it mean to ‘become a Christian?’”
Before 2008, if you’d asked me what religion I was, I would have said Christian. And basically I meant four things by “Christian”: I had a Christmas tree in my living room in mid-December; I went to brunch on Easter Sunday; I tried to be a good person; and I generally believed there was a divine, disinterested ruler of some kind somewhere far away. In other words, my “Christianity” did not have anything to do with Jesus Christ.
Many of us are Christians is this sense. We are born into a family that calls themselves Christian because they attend church on Sundays, get together at long dinner tables for Christmas and Easter, try to avoid the “big sins,” and baptize babies with crossed fingers that this works to seal an eternal existence. Overall, though, there is no difference in the way we act, serve, or feel as compared to non-Christians.
So, to me, to “become a Christian” means several things.
It means I believe
the longing I felt deep in my soul was a longing to be united with my creator. It was not a longing for food or success or sex or money or children;
Jesus, God himself in human form, came to earth to do this uniting (John 1);
by dying on the cross, Jesus and I exchanged something – he took my robe of sin (and this was a big and heavy robe) in exchange for his robe of righteousness, making me blameless in God’s eyes. (Eph 1:3-14) In other words, my sins, which could wake me up in the middle of the night sometimes, were buried forever and not being tallied on a huge heavenly whiteboard (Micah 7:19);
I am a loved daughter of the maker of the Milky Way galaxy and the ant and will spend eternity with God. (Rom 8)
It means I can stop striving to earn my way to God through my goodness, which was never that good. (Eph 2:8-9)
It means I am freed from fear. What could I be afraid of as the child of the one who made everything? (Rom 8:31-39)
It means that God will transform me over the course of my life into the image of Jesus, who lived a flawless life. (2 Corin 3:18)
It means I have a purpose: to follow Jesus’ example and love anyone and everyone who crossed my path with a supernatural, non-judgmental, ever-forgiving, servant love that would make the recipient want to know more about where that love could possibly have come from. (John 13:34)
It means I cannot be silent about how I have been rescued and how the gifts of forgiveness, grace, child-ship, freedom, transformation, and purpose are instantly and constantly available to every single person on the planet. (Matt 28:19)
Have you become a Christian?