I defined Christianity as centering on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And Paul talks later in Corinthians about Jesus being the foundation. It is how we build upon it that can differ.
I don’t want to be called a Christian according to one friend’s definition. But I wouldn’t say I am a “super Christian” as she described another friend. By her definition, you can cuss or you can be offended by it. You can get drunk under age or you can rarely drink. You can wait to have sex until you are married or have sex with your boyfriend.
My initial thought is this: there is an often missed distinction between being saved and being a Christian. The distinction is sometimes made in classrooms at Christian schools or maybe mentioned in church, but gets titled justification and sanctification. There is a single action required to be saved “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Or maybe two, depending on where you look: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
That is Christianity: the religion, the act, the belief. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The foundation which is salvation. But there is building going on around and on top of that foundation. Do you build with gold, silver and precious stones? Or wood, hay and straw?
How you build upon this salvation defines a Christian life or not. A Christian is one who builds with the gold, silver and precious stones. Those are the values and guidelines written throughout the Bible. Following those is what defines a Christian. If you love God, you will obey His commands. And sometimes there is a big step between believing and loving and obeying.
So what about the one who struggles in their life…in how they live? They build with silver and straw. Must a life be perfect for it to be defined as Christian? And what about the one who only builds with gold? Are they included because their actions line up?
For those that use silver and straw, there is forgiveness. For those who only use gold, there is freedom. But with forgiveness must come repentance. And with freedom must come the heart which loves God.
A Christian aims at at perfection. When they miss, they repent and aim again at perfection. Why? Because they love God and reaching at that perfection is evidence of that love. It is living the life laid out in the Bible for God’s sake.
I am saved because I believe. I am a Christian because I strive and desire to live according to God’s rules and for Him.
It is a selfless life. Not My Own- the radical selflessness of the Christian life.
“For the one principle of hell is–‘I am my own. I am my own king and my own subject. I am the centre from which go out my thoughts; I am the object and end of my thoughts; back upon me as the alpha and omega of life, my thoughts return. My own glory is, and ought to be, my chief care; my ambition, to gather the regards of men to the one centre, myself. My pleasure is my pleasure. My kingdom is–as many as I can bring to acknowledge my greatness over them. My judgment is the faultless rule of things. My right is–what I desire.”
George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons- Kingship