Saturday, October 06, 2007

What is a "True" Christian?

Well, what do you think? Is it the means by which you believe you are saved? Whether your doctrine is based on sola scriptura or apostolic tradition? Do you speak where the Bible speaks and silent where the Bible is silent, or is it the other way around? If you're faith-alone, grace-alone, Calvinist, Swedenborgian, or Arminian? Are you premillennial, postmillennial, or
amillennial?

Or is it how you vote? Your stance on the "big two" wedge issues, abortion and gay marriage? Whether you subscribe to the social gospel or the culture of life?

Do you need the Ten Commandments hanging somewhere in your house or a crucifix instead? Do you have a family Bible, or one held together by duct-tape that you read every day? Do you pray with your head down or hands raised? Are you sold-out, evangelistic, and fruitful?

There are literally thousands of Christian denominations out there divided over issues such as these and some even more mundane like whether or not your church building has a kitchen. This is despite Paul's admonishment to, "3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph 4:3-6) Count the "ones" in this passage and compare that to the cafeteria of choices we have when it comes to choosing a church.

Yet Jesus was very clear in telling us what is really important when asked, 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Mt 22:36-40)

So what is a "true" Christian? I would argue one who loves God with all their hearts, mind, soul and strength, and who love their neighbors as themselves. I couldn't tell you if someone I pass by on the street loves God with all their heart. Or even the person I sit next to at church every Sunday. Only God knows the answer to that one. But loving your neighbor as yourself is more evident in the way we live our lives.

My wife gave birth to our second child and first daughter a week ago today. Since then there's been a deluge of visits, phone calls, gifts and prayers from brothers and sisters in our church. Not to mention a steady diet of home cooked food prepared out of the goodness of someone else's heart. (Honestly if not for that, we'd be living off of fast food as we're too much of zombies to do much else.) Many of those who have brought us their specialty dish we're not necessarily close to. But they are loving their neighbor nonetheless. This is despite the fact that a couple of our best friends gave birth to their firstborn four days prior and they have been the recipients of the same warmth and service. It's not as if our church is full of people with the means to do this on a regular basis. And it's not as if this level of love and selflessness is apparent on a weekly basis when I see their faces on Sunday. Yet I know that when I step into church tomorrow I will be greeted warmly with many congratulations, hearty hugs, and sincere smiles. I will feel at home and I will feel surrounded by genuine Christians who truly love their neighbors as themselves.

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