I think all of us “Christians” should stop referring to ourselves as “Christians.”
Nor should we ask other people if they are a “Christian.”
I have two lines of reasoning for why we should stop saying we’re Christians.
1. They were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26)
When the term “Christian” was first invented, it was coined by an outside group of “pagans” who observed the way Jesus-followers behaved and recognized the similarity between what they were doing and what Jesus did. And so they called these Jesus followers “Christians.”
In other words, the first “Christians” did not take this title for themselves; it was given to them.
The term means “little Christ,” and while some scholars think that it was maybe intended to be a derogatory term (sort of like Yankee Doodle), I do not think so. I think the people of Antioch noticed how “Christ-like” the people were who claimed to follow Him, and so they started to referring to this Christ-like followers of Jesus as “Christians.” It was a way to identify them and talk about them.
The Christians of Antioch were not known for their hate, venom, judgmentalism, or religious pride, or even for their good theology, pious life, and vast Bible knowledge. Instead, They were knowing for looking and acting and behaving like Jesus Christ, and as a result, they were “called Christians” by those who were not Christians.
If the watching world started giving titles and nicknames to those who proclaim to follow Jesus today, what sort of titles do you think they would give us?
I am not sure I want to know … but I doubt it would be “Christian.”
But this leads me to the second line of reasoning for why we should stop calling ourselves “Christians.”
2. They will know you are Christians by your love (John 13:35)
If you truly are a “Christian” you don’t have to tell people. They will know it. How? By your love.
Those who truly act like a “Christian” do not have to tell people they are a “Christian” because people already know it. They know it by your love.
I walked by two guys in the store the other day who were both wearing Christian t-shirts. One was saying to the other, “Yeah, they all hate me at work, but that’s okay, because I’m standing up for Christ.”
Now, I cannot say for sure, but I imagine that since I heard this about five days after the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, that this man’s idea of “standing up for Christ” consisted of telling his coworkers that LGBT people were headed for hell, were destroying our country, and were signs of the collapse of modern society and traditional marriage.
Some religious people think that “standing up for Christ” in today’s culture means telling others that God hates gays. Just check out some of the comments on my post from two days ago.
Look, I don’t know where you stand on the gay marriage issue. I don’t care. What I do know, however, is that wherever you stand on gay marriage, the proper response to gay people is love.
The same goes for other groups of people some Christians love to hate. Like Muslims. Whatever you may think about the Muslim religion, the proper way to treat a Muslim is with love.
Love is the proper (and only) response to ALL people, no matter what they believe or do, if we are followers of Jesus.
If you want to represent Jesus to people, don’t do it by hating or condemning them. (And don’t use the line about how you “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”)
Anyway, back to the conversation I heard in the store, I wanted to tell this guy who was proud of his “stand for Christ” that just because people hate you for what you say doesn’t mean that you are standing for Christ.
In fact, in the Gospels, the only people who really hated Jesus were the religious people. Those who were condemned and judged by the religious people loved Jesus and hung out with Him and were accepted by Him.
So if the world hates you but religious people love you, you might not be following Jesus.
Also, if, like this guy in the store, you have to tell people you are a Christian by broadcasting it on your t-shirt, you’re doing it wrong.
If we want to tell people we are followers of Jesus, we do it by loving them. Just as He loves us. Unconditionally. That’s what Godly love is.
I am convinced that the person who loves others unconditionally but doesn’t claim to follow Jesus is closer to the Kingdom of God than those who claim to follow Jesus but doesn’t love others unconditionally.
If love is of God, and everybody who loves is born of God and knows God because God is love (1 John 4:7-8), then it only makes sense that love will be the prevailing characteristic of one who is born of God and know God!
It is not a person’s words that make him or her a Christian, or what they post on Facebook or wear on their t-shirts, or even how many Bible verses they can quote, or how often they attend church and Bible studies, or whether they can “take a stand for Christ.”
They will know we are Christians by our love, and if you have not love, they will never know you are a Christian, no matter how much you tell them you are.
Or maybe I should put it this way: If you have not love, you can never properly act like a Christian, no matter how much you tell people you are one.
The REAL Question We Should be Asking Ourselves (and others)
So the question we should be asking is not “Am I a Christian?” but rather, “Am I Christ-like?”
“Do my words sound like words Jesus might say?”
“Do my actions look like things Jesus might do?”
“Do I love unconditionally, forgive freely, serve sacrificially, and accept all?”
“Do I challenge the religious status-quo for setting up barriers to God and creating groups of us vs. them?”
“Do I break down the walls of religion by eating with the so-called ‘tax-collectors and sinners’?”
If so, then keep living in love and looking like Jesus, and maybe, just maybe, someone might call you a “Christian.”
Vladika Lazar Puhalo says
Truly. We were called to a life in Christ, but having abandoned that, “Christian” has become an excuse to hate and denigrate others, to reduce the the entire Gospel and calling to a collection of moralism, a code that we Christians ourselves do not fulfill, but with which we seek to condemn and destroy other human beings. Because of us — we Christians — “Christianity” has become identified with hate and fear, rather than with the hope that Christ Himself left us with. Thank God many Christians have turned their countenance back toward Christ little by little, but there is much to do for each and all of us to seek to return toward a life in Christ and liberate ourselves from the dark yoke of legalistic phantasy and toward the light and easy yoke of the life in Christ.
Alabama Independent says
So what are you saying? Are we just supposed to love and pray for the homosexuals and lesbians and never tell them their lifestyle is sinful? I think there is sufficient scripture that gives us authority to approach a brother or sister and make an effort to correct them in a loving and biblical way. Whether they are practicing homosexuality or lesbianism, or drunkenness, or what ever sin that besets them.
Daniel loves God says
The problem is nobody does it in a loving biblical way, there is finger pointing and yelling. The bible teaches us to love our fellow brothers and sisters, and not to point fingers, remember what Jesus said???? Let thee who is without sin throw the first stone…., the bible doesn’t give us any authority because we are all sinners, and as a sinner we can not point the finger at somebody else just because they sin differently then us…. If you would like to carry on a discussion/debate, I would love to. Not to say that you are right or wrong, but to see your side of the story.
Personally I think we should stay out of it and not say anything. Let God judge the situation. Unless we are asked by the person for an opinion, I don’t think it’s right at all to approach someone and tell them they are sinning.
That kind of approach never changes minds anyway. It’s simply does not work and has made Christianity hated.
I think a person should look at their own sins and work on them and leave others to theirs. God will figure it out in the end.
No matter the sins people are involved in if we point them to Jesus and the Word of God they will come to find and understand their sin against God. We must tell of what Jesus did for them on the cross and of His love. Once they come to accept Jesus and understand His love then they can have a life change away from their sin to living a life for God through Christ.
As far as someone who calls them self a Christian and is involved in sin we should absolutely point out their sin and if they choose to continue in their sin then we should not associate with them. Check out Mt. 18:15-17 and here is 1 Cor. 5:11-13, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister a but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
If a someone who calls themselves a Christian is practicing a lifestyle of sin (whatever that may be) are they a Christian? Are they following Christ? Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commands.
We should try to restore the Christian involved with sin in a loving and gentle way Gal.6:1, but if they choose not to accept correction and live according to the commands of Christ then we expel them from the church and turn them over to Satan in the hope that they may be saved, 1 Cor. 5:4. To say nothing to the Christian caught up in a lifestyle of sin is very unloving. It is also unloving and unproductive to go and point out an unbelievers sin without first explaining Christ and His love for them.
Aidan McLaughlin says
I think you have missed the point here altogether friend. Those who call themselves Christians are the wolves among the flock. It impossible to tell who is or is not a Christian and therefore no fingers may be pointed in judgement. On a personal level though, we can have discernment and avoid the company if error or try to set up a better example to that error. But this is carried out within the function of love. And first of all that begins with loving God with all your heart soul and mind. And Then loving yourself. And then your neighbour. And in that order. The first will take up the majority of your time. The second will take up the rest along with the first. And the third will be the result of the first 2. And this is the gospel in whole.
Carolyn Warner says
If it is impossible to know who is or is not a Christian, how can you say it is the Christians who are the wolves?
Scripture says it is the false teachers who are wolves and that we shall know His disciples by their fruit. We must stay with a Scriptural view of this matter. See Matthew 7
Mike Armentrout says
I think you are misunderstanding first that if they are not born again believers, they are not brothers/sisters. Once you accept Christ and follow Him, you are a brother or sister. The Bible teaches us that we know in our own heart what behavior is sinful, see Romans 1:18-32 and 2:1-8. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We however are to proclaim the name of Jesus and the salvation that we receive when we accept the FREE gift of Grace that God pours out to us, not to mention the Holy Spirit we receive from Him. Read Matthew 28:18-20, John 31-21 (emphasis on versus 3-6) and Acts 2:36-39.
After all of this take a peak at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. This will give you a good idea about the patients, mercy, and compassion that is exemplified by the LOVE of God in Jesus Christ sacrifice and covering ALL of us with His redeeming blood. We can only share this and many more messages about following Christ. We are to “walk like Him”, but only He can change the heart and soul of the repentant sinner.
Pay attention to the beam in our own eye BEFORE we start worrying about the speck in our brother’s. And Alabama Independent, I can only speak for myself, but I have WAY too may chunks of wood in my own eyes to even see a speck in someone else’s eye.
Have the conversation, then it’s up to them and God. Not me or you or anyone else. Love, befriend, understand and walk with. That is the WAY of Jesus. It’s the example that we show that will do the most good in anyone’s life.
Remember, let him (her) who is without sin cast the first stone.
Aidan McLaughlin says
You be there for them in their suffering. As jesus was there for us in our time of need. Despite our sin. Leave God to do his work through jesus christ and the holy spirit. And do your own work to the best of your ability. And if his countenance shines a upon you his work may be even carried out with your assistance. Bit I hope you don,t know about it. Otherwise there is a danger of getting puffed up!
Della Nishizaki says
Only because of man..not GOD.
Robin Somers says
They will know we are Christians by our love. But what is love? I think that is THE question for the church today.
Juan Laureano says
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ‘
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Carolyn Warner says
We need to speak the truth in love.
Ruben GoOff Goff says
Love it Jeremy!
Daniel Darling says
It sounds like you should not call people a Christian if they don’t act Christianly, like calling people unChristian.
Matthew Richardson says
Once again you make some excellent points. =)
I understand what you’re saying, and yes, I agree that the Bible commands us to love. I do, however, also find it disturbing that while the Bible commands us to love, we are also commanded to be separate from the world, to be holy as Christ is holy, and yet these commandments are overlooked by the majority today. We can love without condoning sin. THAT is what Jesus did. Praise God, He did say that “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them” as the Bible tells us in Luke 15. That offers hope for us all! There is no one He would turn away…and yet, not every one would come. The world did hate Him (and yes, that includes the religious world), and He told us that the world will hate us as well.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.”
No one likes to be told they are a sinner, but that doesn’t make it any less so for me or anyone else. It’s when the Lord makes real to our hearts the fact that we ARE a sinner and that we NEED a Savior that we are able to see Jesus for who He is: The Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world…and that includes my sins and your sins.
Does going to someone in love and warning them of the dangers that lay ahead for them if they don’t alter their course mean that you don’t love them?
Does a fireman not rush into a burning home in the middle of the night because he’s afraid he will wake them up and disturb their sleep? Is he concerned that they might get upset with him for bothering them? No. He cares enough for them to warn them of the danger they are in.
That’s what we are called to do as followers of Christ – warn people of the danger they are in if they continue to choose sin and reject Christ. We are to do this in love from a heart of love and concern for their souls.
Is this the attitude of everyone who calls themselves Christians? Of course not. I am not naive enough to think religious hypocrisy is a thing of the past. I know it is prevalent and far-reaching. That fact does not negate our responsibility to love sinners by telling them of their need of Jesus Christ.
I am not trying to sound condescending. Our command to love simply does not render God’s other commandments void. I do love sinners, and I pray God will give me boldness to tell the truth in love, whether that truth is popular or not.
Lutek K. says
I understand wanting to warn people of the danger their sin puts them in. However, as noble as this motive is, I believe it is misguided.
If you are concerned about the sinner going to hell, it’s too late. We create hell for ourselves, and enter into that hell, every time we sin. Hell is not a future place where we are abandoned by God. It is the present time and place, if and when we ourselves abandon God. Hell is the absence of God in our lives – not after we die, but right now.
Neither “Satan” the adversary, nor Christ the redeemer, is outside and separate from us. Both are to be found within us, as we choose. God never abandons us. The Kingdom is open to all those who are ready to enter.
But if you want to help someone find their way out of hell, you can’t do it by telling them what sinners they are. Hardly anyone tolerates that sort of preaching. The only effective thing you can do is to lead them out of hell by the example of your own life. You can tell them about the Kingdom of God if they’re ready and willing to hear it, but don’t try to force them into the Kingdom. That’s like inducing labor to deliver a child that hasn’t come to term. That may result in a miscarriage. Just love them, unconditionally, and trust God to do the rest when it’s time.
And finally, realize that they don’t have to profess Christianity, they don’t need to call themselves Christian, they don’t need to believe any theology or dogma to strive to attain the holiness in their lives that Jesus did in his. They just need to love; and they need you to love them (without the preaching).
Jesus didn’t call us to warn people, just to love them.
By the way, I don’t call myself a Christian, because I don’t accept a lot of the dogma commonly associated with the word. But I do try to live as Jesus taught.
I totally agree with and I also follow these principles. The problem we need to stop judging everyone. No matter how we look at it‚ since we are human we all sin. We need to follow in Jesus’ foot steps and show understanding‚ love and compassion to one another.
Aidan McLaughlin says
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Nice post! The world is truly contained within each unique individual. The dark and light both exist in there. The battle is fought in there. And the victory claimed in there. And the kingdom of God. In there!! Amen.
Aidan McLaughlin says
Here! here! Well said. A kingdom person I think I detect.
Carolyn Warner says
This is not a biblical view of hell, Satan, or Christ.
Lutek K says
Not everything that is biblical is true; not everything that is true is biblical.
It is important to realize that the Bible is not a set of books written by God, but about God. Its authors and editors were just as human as you and I are, and just as fallible. Inspiration is not the same as dictation.
Carolyn Warner says
I believe you were speaking the truth when you said in your earlier post that you don’t call yourself a Christian, but it sounds like you are interested in spiritual things. If you haven’t committed to reading the entire Bible and studying it, you will find (when you do) that Scripture does indeed claim for itself the things you hereby deny. That being the case, if Scripture claims things to be true that any outsider can identify as false, then that would make the authors liars, and I don’t think we could trust any of it. If moral teachings are what you want, you can go to almost any “religion” to find that.
I think it would be easier, actually, to reject the entire Bible than to try to decide which parts are “true” and which parts are not. It’s like saying, I think I have a heart, but I don’t need a brain. God’s Word is consistent with itself. Keep an open mind, friend, and read with an obedient heart. I obviously disagree with you, but I respect your desire to keep searching.
Lutek K says
This reply is to Carolyn’s comment below, but the website won’t let me post it in the right place.
About fifty years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I one day found myself in the depths of despair. I called out to God, begging ‘Him’ if ‘He’ was real, to help me. Immediately the answer came to me: “You know what you need to do.” And in that instant I knew – I had to learn as much as I can about God – starting with the Bible, because I was raised a Catholic, but including scriptures and teachings from all of the world’s religions. That learning has continued for half a century, and I don’t intend ever to stop. One thing I realized quickly was that much of the Bible has numerous interpretations, depending on which sect of Christianity (or even Judaism) is doing the interpreting. I had a ‘red-letter’ edition at the time, so I decided to ignore for the moment the preachers and theologians and concentrate on the passages in red – the reported words of Jesus. What I found was a simple message of love, respect, humility, compassion and forgiveness. In my mind, that trumped all of the theology, not just in the Bible but in other scriptures as well. (But yes, I’ve read the entire Bible; many parts several times.)
It’s true that we can’t trust any of it – at least we shouldn’t, not until we examine each book and understand its provenance – its authorship as well as the cultural context in which it was written. Doing so does not in any way diminish or violate faith. On the contrary it clarifies and even strengthens it. It seems to me that blind faith may be worse than no faith at all. It’s certainly harder to overcome!
As for saying that the authors are liars, that would be an extreme over-reaction. About as extreme as saying that other scriptures, such as the Tao te Ching, the Qu’ran or the Bhagavad Gita have nothing to offer. Have you read any of those? They all hold a lot of wisdom, too.
Perhaps a little closer to home for you, theologically speaking, is the Gospel of Thomas – my personal favorite. I’m not sure why the early church fathers rejected it – probably because they didn’t understand it because it didn’t agree with some of their own beliefs.
Many biblical scholars have pointed out misinterpretations and inconsistencies in what you call “God’s Word.” This isn’t the place to go into details, but I recommend such authors as (in alphabetical order) Karen Armstrong, Tom Harpur, Elaine Pagels, and James Tabor.
I hope you keep searching with an open mind as well, because there is always more to learn. But of course, the important thing is not what you read, but how you live.
Alabama Independent says
You have said it much better than I could have done. While we are not to run up to a sinner and tell him or her they are going to hell for theirs sins, we do have a responsibility to warn them of their fate, but do it in a loving and biblically addressed way. Thanks for your input on this important role we Christians are supposed to carry out.
Well expressed in ‘Love’.
Also, it is perfectly fine to declare oneself a Christian, and to ask others if they are Christian. The term “Christian” does actually have a specific definition, regardless of where it came from or the intentions and limited understanding of those who coined it.
I am a Christian. I am perfected by love. I believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God who came in the flesh and sacrificed His life to pay for our sins and that on the third day, rose from the grave, alive: fully man and fully God. I am Born Again, just as Jesus Christ said was necessary. I have passed from death into live and…
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
This Love for me has made me secure. I can love because I am loved. THAT is the definition of “Christian.” NO apologies.
In that love, I can love fully, but I will never soft sell what it is to be “Christian.” The meaning of that word is not blurry or undefined, and I am not suddenly going to discard it now because someone says, “Oh, calling yourself a Christian is a bogus, man made term and offends non Believers, don’t say it anymore.”
Poppy cock. It is offensive behavior that offends, not joyously declaring oneself a Christian.
C.S. Lewis had a lot to say on this subject and wrote about it in his book, “Mere Christianity.” A worthy read.
You have given good, moral, historical argument for the name”christian”.
But, still, as the Sanhedrin did with moral, rabbinical stance……..no Scriptural stance.
Aidan McLaughlin says
You just sound like you are trying to convince yourself I,m afraid.
Carolyn Warner says
Carolyn Warner says
Barry Train says
Love what your saying
Jeff Smith says
I see. If you do not approve of LGBT you are not loving and therefore are not a Christian. This is getting so old.
Sin is all the same to God – whether it’s stealing bread to feed your starving children or genocide. God makes no distinction. Given that we all sin, why should GLBT people be singled out?
Carolyn Warner says
That view is not defensible by Scripture. The argument that all sins are equal is not supportable by either the Old Testament law or even the New Testament. A person might steal a pencil or rob a bank. To say these sins are equal plunges everything into moral confusion. No society believes this.
Alabama Independent says
If one approves of the life of homosexuality or lesbianism and still calls themselves a Christian, this is an Oxymoron. I agree, this discussion is getting old.
Fr. Thomas J. Martin says
No one said you have to approve or disapprove of any lifestyle. It is a matter of trying to be God and not do not God’s work. Judge not for you nor I know the heart of a person only God knows that. You sin just like everyone else, what right do you have to condemn anyone to hell or send anyone to heaven? Yes, it is getting old that many Christian think they know it all and know it better than anyone else – my way, my way, that is the only right way!
Sam Riviera says
We may call ourselves whatever we wish, but most people will believe us only if we follow up our words with how we live. If we claim to follow Jesus, then we will be believed only if we look like him. Most people we know see little connection between those who use the title “Christian” and those who look like Jesus.
When someone asks me a question inquiring who I am — I say I am a Christian. It is a designation of my office on earth. Jews for Jesus refer to Jesus as Yeshua because it is said to be the proper appellation. So people began to wonder if we now should go all over the world editorializing, or witnessing what everyone already understands, the name Jesus?
Yet the Holy Spirit apparently supported name Christian — it has gone all over the world pointing to God’s people — those who truly have a heart inclined toward the Lord.
1 Peter 4:16: “…but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.” The Holy Spirit apparently had no objection to the use of this word.
The fact is, we are an imperfect people doing a perfect thing, imperfectly. God knows that, yet He most certainly is fully aware of our shortcomings — that’s not His problem with us.
Not having our love, by way of obedience to Him forms the problem (John 14:15; 1John 5:3). Yet he forbears. That’s the Love He taught us about through His Son.
Thus it’s moot to point out the carelessness and clumsiness of some Christians; if they are sincere they will learn if they are on the Narrow path. with all of us it’s a work in progress. there is a difference between stumbling due the inherent weaknesses of our flesh; and the conscious deliberate disobedience to God, i.e., practicing sin — that is deliberate and ongoing. That’s the sinner with whom God has a problem. As for those who love God, God corrects us regularly as needed; but He does not abandon us because we stumble. If we stumble less, we are demonstrating growth and maturity.
Most importantly I believe that the most important aspect of Scripture signifying the birth and development of a Christian is in John 3:3 — that’s the key to becoming a biblical Christian. We must be born from heaven, a purely spiritual phenomenon; but absolutely necessary because God must be worshipped spiritually to be truly worshipped (John 4:24). Otherwise we are following a mere form of Christianity.
Some will fail, such as those who run away like 3/4 of the one’s receiving the Seed in the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. Having the indwelling Spirit is the only way to endure — however, forget about perfection — that’s above all of our pay grades.
Aidan McLaughlin says
In that name let him glorify God. And what name is that pray tell? The name is jesus. Not Christian. Christian is a self proclamation not taken but awarded.
Evan Nielsen says
OK I see what your post is saying to a point. But it seems like you’re expecting Christians to condone SS Marriage.
Don’t we have an obligation to influence societies laws where we believe for the good of Society and future generations where possible? I think doing this has everything to do with love.
Christians standing against the LGBT movement has nothing to do with not loving gay people. But it has everything to do with loving them enough to show good people that they are making bad choices according to Gods word.
I understand that the best way to show that we are Christians is to live such loving lives in this world that people can see for themselves that we are followers of Christ, but the worldview rarely attributes goodness to following Christ. Instead it seems to attribute good living to religious people with religious motives.
I can’t see the point in being afraid of the term “Christian.” But yes it’s not much good claiming an identity with Jesus Christ if our relationship with Him isn’t a living one putting on Christ and allowing our love to radiate to our fellow man…gay or otherwise.
Sadly, there seems to be a false attitude being fostered even in Christian circles, that an opposing view on any subject means hatred and bigotry on the part of the Christian Community.
It also has to be remembered that Christians aren’t perfect, but are also struggling sinners just like everyone else..but counted righteous by God, only through our faith in His Son our Savior and what he has done for us on the cross.
Pastor J says
So, what do we write in ‘Religion’-spaces on registration-forms?
Lutek K. says
I always write, “No, thank you.”
Aidan McLaughlin says
i often put love or freedom as my religion or political view. i don’t believe in labels.
Gladys Wisener says
Love this, I love the princess bride move, and this quote is great!
Ward Kelly says
We no longer live in a world where we can just “love” people, build relationships, and earn the right to share our beliefs. We live in a nation that has rejected God, and is raising the gods of secularism and amorality onto the public throne. We “Christians” are sought out, and forced by activists to take stands on issues that we may not be desirous of engaging in in such a public manner. Bakers, photographers, wedding planners, restauranteurs, marriage venue proprieters and others are all having their lives destroyed by activists. Does the press care if these are loving people who show love to others in a truly Christ like fashion? No. The persecution of people of “the way” has begun, and though we may wish to only show love we will eventually be pushed into taking a stand, much like those in Muslim countries who are being confronted with death for nothing more than saying they love Jesus.
Fr. Thomas J. Martin says
I realize “Christians” are persecuted in many places in the world, but you know I hear fellow Americans talking about their persecution for being a “Christian” and frankly I have never felt that way. I do not think most American’s really know what persecution is.
Great Post. Now available in French with your permission, Jeremy.
Jeremy Myers says
Absolutely! Thank you!
Prophet J says
Looking for this article, I searched on ‘don’t call yourself a christian’ and got these results http://www.bing.com/search?FORM=U159DF&PC=U159&q=don't+call+yourself+a+christian&src=IE-SearchBox and had to add “redeeming god” to the search in order to get this article (as I’m a ‘first-page only’ user 😛 )
I don’t think we should think of ‘what NOT to call our religion,’ so much as what we SHOULD call it (when someone asks). I thus ‘identify’ as Christian … the same way I ‘identify’ as white, Germanic, right-handed etc. (except I don’t think they ask for those last two on any sign-up forms); although I think now it’ll be ‘Buddhist.’ If anyone asks ‘what kind of Buddhist,’ THEN it’ll be ‘a Christian Buddhist …’ unless ‘Grace-Forgiven Buddhist’ would be more-exact.
What do you think?
Thank you for putting it so simply. I’ve always felt this exact way. If you have to tell people you are something, you are probably not that.
Great article, very insightful. Thanks for posting!
I agree with the article completely and found it very helpful to me personally. I love Christ and want to be a good person, but I don’t want to call myself a Christian because of what it means to most people now. Not that I’m afraid, but I don’t want to be the kind of person mentioned in this article. I have already thought that I will try and show myself by my actions and let people judge that. And if it comes up, if someone asks me, then I will say that I try to follow Jesus and that I love him and leave it at that. I think it would be better if others tell you that you are Christ-like rather than saying that about yourself.
Fr. Thomas J. Martin says
Such a thoughtful reply! You will win more souls for Christ than those that condemn, judge and discriminate against others that God created. People are attracted more by love than condemnation. I unfortunately before retirement was part of an organization that taught condemnation more than grace and it helps no one.
I would add also that I wish people who are focused on confronting gay people regarding their lifestyle-I wish they’d turn their attention to people who abuse and neglect their children. That is in the bible as well yet I don’t hear that discussed. Trauma caused by childhood abuse and neglect destroys countless lives and leads to addiction and all kinds of problems-many lifelong.
Absolutely beautiful and inspirational it restores my faith, with this wise article.
To understand that unconditional love is God nature and we get closer to God by becoming more unconditionaly loving.
To point to another’s supposed sin, is a sin of ignorance, blind by distorted perception, that is other than the clear Self looking at the subject through unconditional love, what ‘one’ should perceive this way is the suffering and/or needed help.
My in-laws attend a consecutive church. Long skirts, don’t cut your hair. And they often say rude and offensive things around me. Including about “dumb” and “infantile” Catholics are. My mother is Catholic and they know this. But it makes no difference. Most of my family (particular the members who are of an that saw Martin Luther King Jr live) yet call them jackals. I thought it was them. But I happened to be approached by a minister handing out tracks on the street. He politely asked for a moment so I thought it would rude to decline. He asked my opinion and beliefs and why. He laughed so hard at my answers that he threw his head back. I no longer stop. I don’t feel open to listening. My advice would be to format a relationship. If you demonstrate traits and behavior the other person respects they will ask for your testimony sooner or later. Or at least that is often the story I hear. As for the law, I think opposing abortion on principles (religious or other) but as long as no church is forced by the state to preform a ceremony. I find it hard to imagine why I should care who signs a marriage contract. In my state at least. You can have a church ceremony without any interaction with the government at all. And I had a friend who was “legal” not stationed to live with or consummate her marriage Until she had a ceremony. They waited nine months (long story, Visa stuff, don’t ask). To me that seemed perfectly reasonable. In the mean time, she was granted access to him at ER after job place injury at work. Wedding? 3 months away. I thought the waiting for a ceremony was sweet. But sharing this story with SS marriage opponents, they often said that the husband must have been a f*****t. THREE times I talked to a Christian who had objections and I received heard some out right hostile responses to the idea that the church union could be separated from the legal. I still don’t understand the response that she couldn’t be a “true Christian” or attend a “true church” if she had to wait for a religious ceremony. Maybe a religious ceremony isn’t required by the Bible, I don’t know. But I think her choice is valid, almost admiral. And I was saddened but NOT, if honest, that some people were rude. I don’t a single Christian outside of my parents and some family is would want my child to emulate. In MY experience Christian you is absolutely, one of the worst options, to model and ethical legal system after. Especially if you Christians can’t even honor the golden rule among themselves. Not to mention that apparently my Catholics like my Mom “don’t read a true bible” even given that came first. Long to short. Build rapport if you want to win convert. It’s slower but I think you’ll find it more successful. Why share this suggestion. Despite my beliefs, I was allowed the choice. I think that at least once everyone should be offered one. I that applies to religion and faith. Maybe more than any other choice. Although that may be a bit extreme.
Brian Glass says
Father has been laying this on my heart for some time. Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father God, and the 1st Century Church never endowed us with the name “christian”. Why would we give ourselves an identity given by the world? “I’m a sinner saved by grace”, “I’m a wretch”, I’m a (denomination) All come from the enemy, to steal the identity given to us at the Cross.
Someone asks me,”What religion are you?” I always answer,”I despise religion, I’m a follower of Jesus.”
“Oh, so your a christian?”
” Jesus didn’t die to make me one of the 3 major religions; He’s the Way to Father God’s Heart.”
What does He call you?
I agree with you, perhaps though only in part. When I first met my husband, I was not Christian, we actually met because of a debate/discussion concerning my beliefs. My husband (at the time a perfect stranger) never told me he was a christian, ever. He was one of the people in this discussion, who were very strongly against what I did believe at that time. We debated, at times vehemently and passionately, myself for what I believed, him against. He was never some sweet little push over, he was strict, firm, solid in both his convictions and his arguments. There were times he made me so angry I wanted to throw things at him – I’m positive my face was red a time or two. (No, he was never once insulting, but he was honest) From the outside looking in, perhaps no one else could see what I did, but what I saw, wasn’t love either. Or at least, it wasn’t what the world sees or defines as love. He never attacked me personally, but the belief? Yes..
All the while, never once calling himself a christian. At that point we began to have regular debates disagreements, and found our common ground as well. So, who then called him a Christian when he never did? I did. I did even while I was not one.. and funny thing was, I had seen and known Christians in my life, plenty of them. Never once in any of them, did I see what I saw in this man, because in this man, I saw Jesus Christ. I saw, what a living Christianity was.. and its different than what I think most people think it is. Its different than what I had ever thought it was for sure. But here is the thing, I don’t know HOW I saw that in him.
He is a Spirit filled believer, yes. So how is it recognized when you stand against someones belief as he stood against mine? In short, I think its a matter of spirit recognizing Spirit. Just as when Jesus came upon the demon possessed and they recognized him for who he was.. so will the unbeliever recognize the Spirit-filled believer when confronted, when its the Spirit of God in them anyway. The Spirit filled believer is calm, assured, knows the right things to say, and can get under the skin of anyone because of simple truth.
I fell in love with my husband, because of what I saw in him.. and I also fell in love with Christ. But it wasn’t the mushy gushy walk all over me christ some people have, nor was it the spouting ignorance and rhetoric christ of others.. it was the real Christ. And its recognizable, because spirit recognizes Spirit. Its either that, or we don’t really know these days what real love looks like, which is also entirely possible. If the encounter I had is described in the Bible as love, then the largest majority of Christians on earth, have no idea what love even is, in a Biblical sense.
I was led from Islam to Christianity by this however, and I stand today a Christian. I call myself such, when even my husband to this day still wont call himself one, because I needed to identify with the Christ I have found, my life is changed after all. Perhaps one day I wont need that anymore, as my husband so clearly doesn’t (he says he refuses to call himself Christian because the name was hijacked by people and they kicked him out of the clubhouse, so they can keep the name, he refuses to associate him name with them, which is pretty much all he says about it) But until then, until I no longer need that association of name, then I will call myself Christian. I dont think its right to say no one should, or that no one has that right. What I do think, is that we need to be clear that being a Christian, means we FOLLOW Christ, as its much more than a magic sentence. God Bless you
Scripture is best when quoted fully and in the context in which it was written. Loving others is a command from God, but like that of repent and believe the gospel, in and of our selves we are completely unable to do so apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. Thus saying that an unconverted person that loves others in a Godly way is completely false. Without the Holy Spirit within you, you are unable to truly love anyone in the way God expects.
You stated that “If we want to tell people we are followers of Jesus, we do it by loving them,” but you use John 13:35 to support this claim. The problem here is that John 13:35 says that they will know we are his disciples by our love for one another. It is love from one christian to another that causes us to be known as his disciples not that we love the worldly people as you assume here.
Sam Riviera says
Is your point that you understand John 13:35 to be referring to people being known as Jesus’ disciples because they love one another (disciples loving each other?), or that in general Jesus’ disciples need love only other disciples? In either case, Jesus did also plainly advise his disciples (see Luke 10 for example) to love their neighbors, reiterating what was said in the Law.
The point of the post seems to be that calling oneself a Christian does not a Christian make, nor does it indicate to the world that those who calls themselves Christians follow Jesus and live by his standards. Loving one’s neighbor as Jesus tells us to do is often the standard by which the world recognizes those who follow Jesus. Many claim to be Christians, but in the eyes of the world many of those do not show love for others, and often not even for each other.
Many of our friends have a term they use for these self-described “Christians.” They call them peddlers of religion, and they do not mean that in a positive way, but rather are referring to people they believe are trying to push their own agenda of a psuedo-religious toxic mix of some sort of religious something, politics, power, control, personal profit (think $$$) and efforts to feel good about ones self while at the same time looking down on neighbors (condescension) rather than loving neighbors.
Aidan McLaughlin says
Aidan McLaughlin says
Jeepers. Conversations like this always seem to end up bashing homosexuals. It seems that’s the flavour of the day. These self proclaiming Christians can be quite brutal to be honest. And move from one moralistic flavour to another. Sad really. Very sad.
I looked all over the Bible for the place where Jesus uses the word Christian and now you pointed me to it and I quote you:
“2. They will know you are Christians by your love (John 13:35)”
and then I went to the Bible, and guess what, the Bible lied to me as this is what it said:
“By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35”
Despicable isn’t it, this incorrect book the Bible, luckily you saved the day by correcting “disciple” with the actual word “Christian” , thank you for showing us that Jesus who is God in flesh has no idea what He is talking about.
Great safe there!
Thank you. I find it very painful to see what is happening in many churches. Lots of good things yet what’s your Mendes amount of judgment and rejection of anyone who does not interpret the Bible exactly as they do. The old testament was actually closer to the Torah. Many churches rarely mansion Jesus or Jesus’s message but focus on the wrongs of those who don’t follow their path exactly. I don’t tell people I am a Christian, I say I am a follower of Jesus and although I can never reach the capacity to love the way he did that is my goal. It seems that this goal is so all encompassing I don’t have time to Focus on others and how they might meet my personal expectations of how they “should” live. Judgment seems to turn people away from God, away from Jesus. To love and to love well is the only way to heal the brokenness of humanity. Sadly, The deepest message from God has been lost to many. It was an amazing gift we were given I am like many gifts it seems to have ended up in the garage or the attic.
Peter Lia says
“So if the world hates you but religious people love you, you might not be following Jesus.’ This statement makes no sense. True disciples of Jesus Christ are hated by the world; sometimes a mere verbal and emotional hate, but always one of principle. Religious people are citizens of the world. There isn’t a nickel’s difference between the way they live and the world lives. Both think, believe, and act independent of God and both ignore divine absolutes. This is more than evident in the world / religious belief that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, placed in the tomb for 24 hours and was raised from the dead on the first day of the week that honors the pagan goddess Ishtar. Scripture (John 19) clearly teaches that Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation, placed in the tomb on the high day Sabbath which is three FULL DAYS and three FULL NIGHTS before He was raised from the dead on the weekly Sabbath, the last day of the week, not the first. To draw the ire from a religious minded individual, all that is required is telling them the truth that they are ignoring and disposing of Jesus’ promise, the only sign He gave of His Messiahship. God is also explicit in stating that a person cannot hate man, and not hate God. Those who hate other men, hate God as well and the disposal of Christ’s prophecy it proof of it. Again, we cannot perceive love and hate in verbal and emotional terms. Love and hate are divine principles. Love does not exist in anyone until God dwells in that person.