Saturday, June 27, 2009

When do you "become" a Christian?

While camping with our friends we often spend quite a few hours around the campfire after the kids go to bed. I use the term "go to bed" VERY loosely. For us it means you give each of them a glow stick and tell them they get to keep them and they can stay up as long as they are not too loud and stay on their sleeping bags, a.k.a. don't jump on our air mattress:) During this last trip I was talking about my formative years (are there unformative years?). I won't give the details but let's just say I was VERY "worldly." After one of my comments one of our friends said "but that was before you were a Christian." I then mentioned that I always wonder about that... when do you "become" a Christian?

I know the pat answer is when you take Christ into your heart and you are baptized. But by that definition I became a Christian back in 1998 and I DEFINITELY did not try very hard to act like a Christian for quite a while after that. Also if you "fall away" as many people do during their lives are you then no longer a Christian? I want there to be another term we can use for people that are trying to follow Jesus. Christian has been so misused it now has a negative connotation for many people and I believe it can actually be counterproductive to what Jesus wants us to do.

That begs the question "What do Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit want us to do?" My answer is that they (He) want(s) us to love each other first and foremost. I believe that sometimes if not quite often the moniker of "Christian" gets in the way of that. So what to call those of us that want to show people how much God loves them through us first and foremost? Keep in mind I am not saying I am better than anyone else for wanting to do this I just think God calls us to Love and everything should come out of that.

I think far to often Christians are seen as Judging others and saying who is and who is not going to heaven or hell. I remember in my first job out of College I worked at ERAC and I would CRINGE when someone pulled up with a "Jesus" front license plate, was a "reverend", or their voice mail said to have a blessed day. If any one of those was there the probability that they would be rude, not pay or just be a VERY difficult customer was VERY high. So I too see "Christian" as having a negative connotation and I AM ONE!

I am kicking around the idea of asking our Church if I can make up T-Shirts to sell to raise money for the Church. The front would just have the logo. On the back would be a funny but true saying. Maybe something like....
  • I won't judge you, I'm a dirtbag too! Matthew 7:1-3
  • I've got enough to worry about without judging you. Matthew 7:1-3
I would love to hear more suggestions!

Keep the faith!



Laura said...

Like you, I believe that Christian has many negative connotations, a friend of mine a few years ago mentioned that while she considers herself a Christian she refers to herself as a Christ Follower instead.

I adopted that too! It reminds me daily to pick up my cross and not stand in the (self-righteous) judgement seat.

Thanks for the thoughts!

Rachel said...

I bet your friend was just commenting on where you were in your relationship to Christ at that point in your life :) And I completely agree with you that the term "Christian" falls short in its implied attempt to define a person as completely "in" or "out" of relationship with God. We follow Him to varying degrees throughout life, and sometimes we oversimplify that truth by pinpointing a date as the day we "became a Christian". I hope I am still becoming a Christian (follower) every day. When talking to people who aren't committed to knowing and following Christ, I avoid the loaded term "Christian" as well because of the negative connotation. On Facebook I have "follower of Christ" beside Religion. Sometimes I refer to Christians as "servants of God" or "seekers". I like the idea of your shirt...sign me up for one!