What Does it Mean to be a Christian?

This is perhaps the most difficult post to write because it won’t be politically correct. It won’t be telling people to hate one group over another even though there are so many out there who think that is the only way we can coexist. The truth is that the only way to coexist with one another is through love.

Well what about the thousands of pagans burned at the stake or the innocent people from two hundred years ago who were hung in the name of Christianity? The truth is none of us were alive then. I would imagine if we could go back in time, we would try to stop all the madness. The sad thing is, that same madness is infecting everyone today. It isn’t the madness of other religions, but the frustration people feel because nothing seems to go their way. I have to admit, I too have found myself asking God why? Why can’t I do better, be better, gain better? I have asked this many times in my life and discovered it was never God’s choice that lead me to those horrible points in my life. Those were my choices. I made them, I own them. In owning them I have been able to forgive myself of the stupid choices I have made. So what is it to be Christian?

With so many hate groups around, it almost makes it too easy to define Christianity. Being a Christian is about love and forgiveness.

The word “LOVE” appears over three hundred times in the Bible.  There are entire passages and chapters dedicated to the word love and how to be humble in the love we have to give. Take Romans 12:9-21, it is entirely dedicated to love in action.

***Romans 12:9-21 (NIV) 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

11 Never be lacking in zeal , but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

16 Live in harmony with one another, Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. On doing this, you will heap the burning coals in his head. ”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  ****

Wow, were the first words that came out of my mouth when I read this list of Love in Action. They should be so easy to follow. They should be the easiest things in the world to do because we all have one thing in common, we live here. The truth is they can be the hardest if we allow it.

Hate is the oppressor that comes in many forms and right now, the world is full of it. Its easy to jump on the band wagon of hate when someone is speaking out against you and everything you hold close to your heart. It’s easy to allow hate to consume when it is sewn with fear through intimidation and threats of harm to a person, place or thing you love. It is without a doubt hard to follow the path of love if we allow hate to speak louder than love.

I have found it difficult to understand a certain group of people because their beliefs are so different than mine; but God says to love your enemy. It goes against our very nature because of our natural instinct to want to protect ourselves, our family and our faith. So how do we go about following God’s path of love?

In my most humble opinion we face the fear that is causing the hate inside us. If someone is homophobic, that person should pray and talk to a person who is gay. If a person hates another race, that person should pray then talk to a person of that race.

The hardest one for me has to do with those of the Muslim faith. There is so much hatred in the world when it comes to Muslim. Their faith is different than mine. Some of their Imams have preached about killing people of my faith and in other countries across the world, they are cutting the heads off Christians simply for being Christian. How can I love a person who hates me so much for my own personal beliefs?  To me, this attacks everything inside me. It makes me angry, sad, oppressed. And so I am reminded of the last two verses in the ones above, Romans 20 and 21.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. On doing this, you will heap the burning coals in his head. ”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In doing good for any group that provides seeds of hate in our spirits, we are able to overcome the hate and set a better example of how we are supposed to behave. God doesn’t want us dead anymore than he wants us to hate. He created us to love and gave us his son as a sacrifice to show how much he loves us. In answer to what is it to be a Christian, to me it’s love. It takes love for all, even those who mean to do us harm.

Love can provide a light through the darkness and a path that will allow us forgiveness. Love is stronger than any kind of hate out in the world. It can move mountains, change lives and give us hope. To be Christian is to remember that we are not the judgement of the world, we are not to pay back with an eye for an eye but we are to love those who hate us. How powerful is that? How much strength do we have as people?

I myself am going to work on this one and I am going to keep working on this one my entire life; because to me, love is the final answer.

For those rolling their eyes, or think I am some sort of fanatic, I leave you with this.

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

31  The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself, there is no commandment greater than these.”

We were never meant to hate. May love bless you and keep you for all the days of your life. Many blessings to all.