Advent Week 2: So What Exactly Is A Christian?

advent2We are now in Week 2 of the Advent season.  Advent is the 4 weeks prior to Christmas, in which we symbolically await the coming of the promised Christ which we will celebrate on Christmas, while at the same time we (for real) await his promised return at the end of the age.  Not that there is ever a time when we are NOT awaiting Christ’s return, but Advent is a time when we are especially dialed into this.

During the Advent season my modus operandi is to pick a topic that is at least somewhat related to Advent and talk about it for four weeks.  This week I want to continue exploring the idea of what it means to be a Christian and what it takes to be a Christian.  These ideas come from a sermon series that my church did earlier this year on this issue.  You can find it here if you are interested.  (The link takes you to part 1; from there you can access any other part of the series.)

–The term Christian is very subjective.  It can mean almost anything you want it to mean, because there is nothing in the Bible that gives any definition to the term Christian.  Why?  Because the term Christian hardly ever appears in the Bible.  It was never used by early Christians in reference to themselves; instead it was a label used by those outside of the Jesus movement.

–The early Christians did not call themselves Christians; instead they referred to themselves as “disciples”.  Whereas the word “Christian” appears only three times in the entire New Testament, the word “disciple” is all over the place.  The meaning of the word “disciple” as it is used in the New Testament is much clearer and much more terrifying.  A disciple is someone who looked to another person as a mentor, who sought to learn to manage situations and relationships in his life in the exact same way as his mentor, who was committed to doing things his mentor’s way no matter what.

–Jesus made it perfectly clear how his disciples were to be recognized by the world as such.  One word:  love.  (John 15:12:  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”  Jesus repeats himself in verse 17 if you didn’t get it the first time:  “This I command you, that you love one another.”)  If Christians down through history had gotten just this one thing right, history would have looked much different:  Many of the wars and conflicts of the past two centuries would have not happened.  Slavery would have been a non-issue here in America.  There would have been no civil rights movement.  It would not have been necessary.