It's an odd culture that we live in. If a man boldly and publicly self-identifies as a woman, he is praised and called a hero. However, if people dare to boldly and publicly identify as a Christian, they are criticized and told that they need to get out of the fairy tale and live in the "real world." Still, there are many brave souls in our society who boldly and publicly identify as Christian!
So, is there a best way to self-identify as a Christian? Jesus said; "You will know them by their fruits." People's fruits are their attitudes, behaviors, character, lifestyle, and words. The Bible says that we are to "be doers of the word and not hearers only."
Should Christians identify themselves by their leader's names or even by organizational names? The Bible lists several ways that some of the first Christians in the city of Corinth self-identified. They said that they were "of Paul," "of Cephas," "of Apollos," or "of Christ," Yet, Paul said that kind of self-identification was "worldly."
Perhaps the best way to identify as a Christians is not "to go to church" or "make self-proclamations about your religious affiliation," but instead; to daily, radically follow and obey the risen Jesus. Of course, we can't do a very good job of that in our own strength. Like the Matt Maher song says; "Holiness is Christ in me."
Here's a question. When people think about your faith, do they think about the religious organization that you belong to; or do they think about your fruit of upstanding attitudes, behaviors, character, lifestyle, and words?
Here's a powerful way we can self-identify as Christ-followers. Paul wrote: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Jesus said that oneness (caring, heart-felt unity) among Christ followers will cause the world to believe in Him. The Romans frequently said of the early Christians, "How they love one another!" Is that kind of oneness with other believers a fruit in your life?
Salvation is not based on the group you belong to, or on the particular doctrines you ascribe to, but on your personal surrender to and relationship with the risen Jesus of the New Testament. Therefore, Christian unity isn't based on doctrinal agreement, but on the risen Jesus living inside of us.
Of course there are facts about Christ that if we deny them, we redefine Him as "another Jesus" (like Paul talked about). Anyone who redefines who Jesus is, steps outside of Christianity. Cults redefine Jesus. They aren't talking about the Jesus of the Gospels, but a different Jesus of their own imagination. However, all who love, follow and obey the risen Jesus of the New Testament (not a counterfeit Jesus) are one.
Many true Christ-followers belong to the various Christian organizations and disagree on lesser points of doctrine, but we all agree on who Jesus is. So let's self-identify by showing the fruits of love, compassion, and kindness to everyone we come across and especially to other members of the body of Christ!
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