Who is a Christian?


By Vernon E. Hurles - Religion Columnist



Recently someone asked this question, “Are you a Christian?” The indignant reply was, “What do you think I am, a heathen?” The inference of this answer is that anyone who is not a pagan is a Christian. Such certainly is not and could not be the case.

But who and what is a Christian?

Most of us would agree with Russell V. Delong who said, A human being is composed of three distinctive, although not separate, parts——emotions, intellect, and will. We think, we feel, and we act.

A true Christian must be one who is affected in all three of these areas of his personality. He must think as a Christian ought to think; he must feel as a Christian ought to feel; and he must act as a Christian ought to act.

The contents of thinking are called doctrine.

The elements of feeling are called experience.

The acts of willing are called ethics.

So Christianity must encompass three things: doctrine, experience, and, ethics.

What then, is a Christian? One who believes something, experiences something, and does something.

Who, then, is a Christian? One who has accepted certain beliefs, one who has experienced certain changes, and one who has accepted and practices certain codes of conduct.

So believing, experiencing, and practicing are the three essentials areas of our lives that must be Christianized.

A person who believes something he does not experience is simply a dogmatist.

A person who experiences something he does not believe is an emotionalist.

A person who does not act as he believes is a hypocrite.

Truth is what God thinks, what God feels, and what God wills. That which God does not think is error. That which God does not feel is evil. That which God does not will is sin.

A Christian is one who tries to be free from error intellectually, is delivered from evil experientially, and is not sinning actively.

A real genuine Christian is one who has come to the knowledge of the truth in his mind, experiences the power of Christ in his heart, and lives the life of Jesus in his conduct.

No Christian is perfect; but his motive and intent are to keep God’s laws, keep his heart pure, and do God’s will to the best of his understanding and ability.

Christianity affects all parts of a person’s nature. Christianity is not doctrine alone. But there must be some statement of belief.

The catchy slogan, “No creed but Christ,” is meaningless unless we have some concept of what and who Christ is.

Who He is determines what He has done, what He can do now, and what He will do in the future. When we summarize our ideas about Him, we have a creed.

Everyone has a philosophy of life, and every Christian has a creed. Whether that creed is true or false depends on how it squares with the holy Word of God.

But more is needed than doctrine. Belief must be translated into personal experience. Christ himself must become real to us, Our sins must be forgiven, the power of sin in our lives must be broken, our bad habits must be changed, our appetites must be controlled. I must become a new creature in Christ. That is the new birth. It is more than doctrine—-it is experience.

But a real Christian is still more than one who believes something and experiences something; he must do something. He must act under a new code. The Ten Commandments must be his standard of ethics. The Golden Rule must be his measuring rod for living. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” We may be orthodox and we may claim high mystical experiences, but unless we are ethical we are not real Christians.

Christianity affects all of our personality; it touches all areas of our lives.

ILLUSTRATION:

There was a wealthy man who built a beautiful house and brought his family to see it only after it had been finished. With joy the man pointed out the new homes many conveniences and then said, “Only one thing I have not done. Here is a beautiful ark made of fine, perfumed imported wood. It represents religion, and I have not decided where to put it. I shall be glad for suggestions and advice.”

“Oh,” exclaimed the grown daughter, “put it in the music room! Religion is for the soul and heart and its place is in the midst of poetry and song.”

“Put it in the library” said the law student son. “Religion is for the intellect, and its place is among the books.”

“Give it room in the kitchen,” said the mother. “Religion is practical and its place is amid labor and useful occupation.”

The little child could not make suggestions, but the father remembered that “a little child shall lead them”; and placing the precious ark in the little one’s hands, he said, “You show us where it should go.”

The little one held the ark for a moment, and then walked over and cast it into the fire of the open grate. The mother and children were horrified, but the father said, “Let it be, this was our method of deciding and we must abide by the results.”

As the ark burned on the grate, its expensive wood sent forth sweet perfume which entered the music room, the library, the kitchen, and all the rooms of the house; and the father said, “That is it. Religion belongs to all the rooms of the house. There is no place from which it is to be barred.”

Our lives are that house. God’s presence must pervade it all. Our thought life, our emotional life, and our active life must all be permeated with the religion of Christ if we are to be truly Christian.

Welcome to First Church of the Nazarene, 990 Ste. Rte. 41 S.W. Washington C.H., Ohio; Where Faith, Family and Relationships Matter.

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By Vernon E. Hurles

Religion Columnist

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