The Christian Label

Often people label themselves “Christian” without even knowing what Christ stood for or what being a Christ-follower really means. There is a great disservice done towards the view of Christianity when people throw around the term so flippantly. It has become something of a platitude without much meaning behind it. I’ve heard plenty of people say they are Christians, but they believe that everyone goes to heaven. It shows me there is a disconnect between the label and the man, the son of God. Those who do not believe in the Christian religion – and even many who do become wary of Christianity and are reluctant to follow a religion whose members behave in a manner opposite of what their own Holy Book teaches.

What I find disheartening is that Christianity is judged by the actions of people instead of the Person – Jesus himself, what He taught and what the Bible says. First of all, Jesus never even used the word Christian. So it’s understandable why there are so many different definitions of the word. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a definition of what it should be if we read the Bible and examine the standards that Christ laid out for His Disciples.

There seems to be a popular worldview of Christians that suggests “if you call yourself a Christian than you must be perfect, you cannot sin, you cannot screw up, and you cannot make mistakes.” But why? Are we not human, too? Don’t we all make bad decisions at least occasionally? The very basic foundation of being a Christian is believing that Jesus is the son of God and he died for our sins – all of our sins – the sins before we started believing and the sins after we become Christians. There isn’t a magic switch that turns off sin as soon as we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. It would be nice, but it just isn’t so. Would you expect children to be perfect even if they believe in Jesus? Of course not. Adults aren’t perfect either. We need to stop placing unrealistic expectations on others just because of their religious beliefs.

That being said, Christ followers do have a standard that we should be trying to follow. While none of us will ever arrive at perfection this side of heaven, we should be working on becoming more Christ-like. I heard my Pastor in NC say over and over, “We are not sinless. We are in the process of sinning less and less.” That is so important for us to remember.

Another saying of that pastor that stands out was “We are baptists with a little b and Christians with a capital C.” Often times we get hung up on denominations and forget the core of Christianity. We separate ourselves from other believers because of a label. It’s okay to not agree on everything within the faith, but when we isolate ourselves or others it does more harm than good. Keeping the focus on where it belongs is the only way that people will see Christ through us. I don’t always get this right, but I am trying.

If we can put aside a bad experience (or more than a few) with a Christian, a group of Christians, or even an entire church then maybe we can evaluate Christianity on its own merits – what Jesus said it is, not what others say it is. The most important thing is a personal relationship with Him, not a label.

At the center of Christianity is the life of one man, Jesus the Christ.

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