What is a Christian?

By Dr. Greg Davis, Senior Pastor

One of the confirmands asked me, “What is a Christian?” There are always people willing to answer this in no uncertain terms, usuallyto inform you that you are not one.

The original disciples of Jesus struggled a lot. But they had one qualification I’ve never seen held up: “You are those who’ve stood by me in my trials” (Luke 22:28).  The disciples may not have been perfect, but they continued with Jesus in his temptations.

How’s that for a definition of “Christian?”  And if we adopted it, what unity we would find in the midst of our diversity!  

At BUMC, we encourage young people to make their own discovery of God. But there are always people who think it would be easier and quicker to tell them about God. That is sort of a mental way of “jumping from the temple roof” instead of keeping our feet planted on the ground, interpreting life-as-it-is-lived until God is seen shining through it, not above it.

There’s nothing fanciful about this. Give me a bird’s eye view of humanity and I am capable of anything. Give me a row of figures, a page of statistics, and my humanity shrinks.  Yes, this is real temptation, to become so self-sufficient, so aloof from our neighbor, so detached from the issues people around us face – this woman, that man, that child.  One of our greatest temptations is our failure to see people as people.

So this is what it means to be a Christian and share the temptations of Jesus: to respect each person and share his struggle, to assert the supremacy of the personal. It means refusing to impose our understanding upon people, instead drawing forth their own self-understanding. This is making disciples, those who stand by him in his trials.