Acts 11:26, I am a Christian
And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
//I’ve had a number of discussions on various forums about what I believe, and I seldom feel like I’m getting through, so maybe I could just take a minute and lay it out for you.
I am a Christian. Yes, I realize fully that my definition of Christian probably does not match yours. To me, it just means a follower of Christ.
This is more than word games to me. The title “Christian” derives from “Christ within.” I don’t think of this relationship in supernatural terms, but in spiritual terms; the spirit of Christ can reside in me just as the spirit of my own father can reside in me. I’m flattered when others see my human father in me, but I can think of no greater compliment than for another to see Christ in me.
This is because I admire and seek to emulate the humanitarian teachings of Jesus. Jesus held a vision for the future that he believed would change the world, and apparently others began to believe in his vision too, even hailing him as Christ. Christ means “Messiah,” the anointed savior of the world. In my opinion, Jesus was and is precisely the type of savior our world most needs. If our world needs saving, Jesus’ example of breaking down barriers with love and compassion is the saving solution. So, I have no problem calling Jesus “Christ,” for the world-saving message he taught.
But do I worship Jesus? No. As best I can tell, the last thing Jesus wanted was to be worshipped. I could hardly emulate him if he did, for I have absolutely no desire to be worshipped either.
Do I worship God, then? Not in ritualistic practice, because I don’t know for sure if there is a God! It’s a great question, and I find the study of religion, both ancient and contemporary, equally fascinating. But “God” really has nothing to do with me being a Christian. When I read scripture for inspiration, I’m quite content to think of God in generic terms like Love, Light, Life.
Jesus believed in a God. I’m quite aware of that. Jesus also believed God was 100% behind his humanitarian vision. He even wrapped his dream for the world in religious terms like the “kingdom of God” and the “reign of God,” describing the prophets’ promise of an age when God would once again dwell with people on earth. I, too, imagine that if there is a God, he approved of Jesus’ vision. But, really, God (as a supernatural being) is beside the point, as far as my being a Christian. I see no need to confuse my discipleship with my religious beliefs. While Jesus’ 2,000-year-old understanding of God and the universe is quite antiquated, his humanitarian teachings will never grow outdated, regardless of culture and era. It is Jesus’ vision for a new world that I share, not the religious customs and beliefs of his era.
There have been other great humanitarian teachers and leaders, but my own heritage is uniquely Christian. For me, Jesus is the one. He’s my chosen example, and I am a Christian.