Have you ever wondered what a Christian should look like? Growing up in a Christian household, with Christians parents who brought me to church every Saturday for cell group and every Sunday for Sunday Service and Sunday School, I thought I had a pretty good idea what Christians look like.
Christians sit up straight, they are polite and courteous, they raise their hands when they either ask or answer questions, they never speak out of turn, they are always busy during the weekends and religious holidays, and they always pray before meals.
That was the impression of Christians I grew up with. But as I entered my teenage years, I started to have doubts about whether I was Christian. I did all those things, and yet it felt like it wasn’t enough. I started to question my identity, and one of those questions that bothered me the most was “what makes people Christian”? If my assumptions about Christians are correct, what is the difference between a polite kid with good manners and Christians?
For those of you who may have been attending church for some time, you are probably already saying “Jesus is the answer” in your head, and you would be right to an extent. Yes, Jesus is indeed the answer, as cliché as the saying goes, but what difference should knowing Jesus and having Christ in our lives make? What does a genuine Christian look like?
When someone opens the Bible and really reads it for what it says, there’s no denying it: Christians are meant to live differently. We are meant to be the weird ones, the unconventional people who value things differently, who respond differently, who reach out differently. In fact, everything about who we are should be so drastically different from what the world looks like that just by looking at us, others would know we are different! Let’s take a look at a few Bible passages and see what Jesus says:
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
These are just a few commands from Jesus on how Christians ought to live, and it already sounds different from what the world is used to. Love those who mistreat us, curse us and hate us? Do good to them? To love God more than even our own parents, and not worry about saving up in this life but instead to save up in the next?
Growing up, lessons of self-preservation are constantly drilled into our heads. If we don’t take care of ourselves, of our own families, who will? If we don’t plan ahead and save up for ourselves, who will? If we don’t protect and fend for ourselves, who will? And yet, Jesus teaches us differently. He calls us to be selfless and sacrificial, to love those who are impossible to love, to put God first above everything else, and to set priorities that have lasting impacts even into eternity. Jesus also teaches us that when we do it right, when we follow God properly and live as Christians, people can tell by how we live our lives:
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:43-45
Christians were never meant to simply sit in a church building on the weekends listening to messages that make them feel warm and fuzzy on the inside so they can survive the week until the next weekend. Christians are called to change the world as they live passionately for God’s Kingdom:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Notice the first thing Jesus asked his disciples to do is to GO. We are meant to go somewhere, we are meant to do something, we are meant to live differently and we are meant to change the world. We will dive more deeply into the topic of living differently for God next time, and in the meantime, may God’s peace be with you wherever you go.