What does it mean to be a Christian? 

 

Saving faith, not saving face.Tragically, many people who believe they are Christians and saved may be deceiving themselves.

 
Scripture tells us that if we believe in Jesus, we will be saved.  But what does it mean to believe?  As is explained in one of the lectio divinae in this series, belief (Gr.
pistis) can be ephemeral.  To be saving, faith must be sustained.  Looking at the immense violence, selfishness, anger and destructiveness rampant in many countries that consider themselves Christian, isn't it more likely that many people, like the sons of Sceva described in Acts, have simply seized on the name of Jesus as if it were a magical amulet?

 
Full, not empty words.Following Christ requires a full understanding of scripture.  In talking with many Christians-- even well-educated Christians, even Christians who read the Bible every day, even Christians who memorize massive amounts of scripture-- I find that not many of them really understand what they are reading.  Like the eunuch that Philip converted, they have all the words but don't know what they mean. 

 
Love?The phrase that ďJesus is loveĒ is repeated so often that it has lost any meaning.Loving people as God loves is hard.It means accepting a person as s/he is, flawed and sinful. God made that person and therefore s/he is good, even if it galls us.The very best witness uses no words.The finest moments as a Christian are when we stand aside and let Jesus flow through us to help another, knowing that our own merits or flaws have nothing to do with the Lordís decision to move through us.

 

Letting God Out of the Box.Despite our best efforts, we tend to anthropomorphize God, to turn Him into a human being.This is a kind of idolatry.God has no gender, although Jesus came to earth in the form of a male and although traditional usage refers to the Father as male.God does not evaluate us as a human being might, weighing our good deeds versus our evil deeds.His mercy is too large to grasp; none of Godís actions can be measured in human terms.If God permits what appears to us to be a great wrong, at the end of time, the consequences of that seeming wrong will somehow be very good.This is the essence of the story of Joseph and his brothers and Dame Julianís most wonderful teaching.

 

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