A Christian is someone who has made a deliberate decision to follow Jesus. We put all our hope and faith in Him. We know that it is only through Jesus that we can be saved.
The word Christian originated in the early days of the church that began very shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus is central to our faith.
Initially called believers, the name Christian, was given by the unbelievers in Antioch and it was meant as a derogatory term. The believers in Antioch, however, took on this new name as a badge of honor, confidently aligning themselves with Jesus, and unashamedly taking on His name. At that time, the name Christian was very unpopular and for many it came with great persecution.
The name Christian drew a definitive line in the sand that said I am with Him, Jesus. There was no mistaking where that person was aligning their faith and loyalties. You either were a Christian, or you were not. It was very clear, very black and white.
Today, we have a watered down definition of the word Christian. It is used to define someone who is from a certain nation, like America and some European nations.
Many use the word Christian because they were born into a certain religion, or their family, at some time, had a habit of going to church. “My family is Christian. My parents brought me to church when I was young, so I need to bring my kids too.”
It is no longer black and white, it’s often unclear whether a person is a believing Christian, or only takes the name Christian because it’s so accepted, even expected; at least in America.
But let’s be very clear, a Christian is someone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to Earth as a man and lived purely. He showed us how to live a life that honors God by loving people, and living obediently to God’s will and purpose. Then, at the appointed time, He died on the cross, three days later He rose from the dead, and is now seated with God in heaven.
His death on the cross marks for the believing Christian the point in time where Jesus paid the ultimate price, His life for ours. He died so we could live. His rising from the dead, means that we too are raised from the dead to a new life in Him.
Why the need for Jesus’ death? We live in a broken and messy world, full of sin. The price to pay for sin is death. Prior to Jesus’ death, people continually made sacrifices of animals but it was never enough to completely blot out their sin. It merely covered it, like temporary restitution or compensation. The next week, month, and year, people were again making sacrifices to atone for their sin, to try and make amends.
Sin kept people from having a relationship with God the Father, and even kept God limited, because we were not free to enjoy a relationship with Him–something He desperately wants. So when Jesus came and gave His own life as the ultimate and final sacrifice He completely destroyed the power of sin in our lives.
Jesus bridged the great divide between God and us. We were separated because of our sin but now we can come so close and stand confidently before God, knowing that we are free from sin and we are free to have a relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, God gave Himself powerfully in the Person of the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit we are filled with power to do the works Jesus did. We have been commanded to do these same works. Anything less than the very life of Jesus, is less than the normal Christian life. We are meant to be live with the presence and power of God. Every Christian is to do the works of Jesus: preach the good news, proclaim freedom, heal the sick, deliver people, and establish God’s Kingdom on the earth. We do this through the power of the Holy Spirit.