First of all, let me say thank you to so many of you who responded to my last blog about the minimum it takes to be a Christian. It was good to see a wide range responses.
At first the responses were primarily propositional. Believe. Confess (with the qualification that confession might be an act of obedience stemming from conversion).
But then the responses turned a little more toward a narrative of following Christ. Walking with him. Being his disciple. Love.
There also was the interesting clarification that being a Christian and becoming a Christian are really two different questions.
I am still convinced that however we define Christianity, it has to be something that works for both Jesus and Paul. Jesus says, “Follow me.” Paul says, “Here is a clearer definition of what that look alike, especially how you start following.
I also appreciate the restraint shown by not overloading conversion with all the extras, and the willingness that many of you showed in letting the Spirit work over time to bring clarity to one’s own conversion, i.e., you don’t have to know everything at first.
Okay, so what’s next? There are many directions I could go, but I like John 3:16. It is familiar, so if you use it there is a greater chance the person will have heard it. But look at the affirmations of the verse.
1. There is a God, a Creator.
2. He is a “person” in that he is personal, and he loves.
3. His love impelled him to action, to do something about our alienation from God (which needs to be extrapolated).
4. The gospel is centered in Christ, and what he means for God to have “given” him. This is the theology of the cross and the atonement, who he is and what he has done.
5. A response is required from us, a response of believing, which means that we believe he is who he says he is (God) and that he has done what he said he would do (provide the means of forgiveness so we can live in relationship with God, in his presence. But here is the hard part: what actually does it mean to “believe”? How do we separate mental assent from a momentary feeling from a giving of oneself (in which we know from Paul includes a regeneration).
6. The result is that we will not live in judgment of our sins but will live in relationship with him for ever, both on earth and eventually in heaven.
So how to say this in two minutes Let me give a shot at it.
“A Christian is a person who follows Jesus. This is a person who has come to realize that God loves the world, and therefore gave his Son to the world, Jesus lived a sinless life and yet died as the penalty for our sin so that God could embrace his creation once again. When we decide to follow Jesus, we decide that there is nothing I can do it initiate the relationship with God, but rather God in Christ has done on the cross what I could to do for myself. When we believe this about Jesus and commit ourselves to him, including being willing to confess this in public, we can know that we have passed through judgment to life, a life in which we walk in relationship for Jesus.
What do you think?