Inside: What does it truly mean to be “Christian?”
I’m gonna give it to you straight: there’s a lot of weird stuff out there pertaining to Christianity. Stuff that straight up DOES NOT make sense and does not reflect God and His heart. And some of it is even widely accepted as fact. It’s easy to get caught up in teachings that aren’t biblical and are even detrimental to your mental and emotional health.
Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are churches who don’t really say much. Who seek to be palatable and relate-able more than speaking the truth of God’s Word.
But the Word does give us the pure and simple truth when looking for examples of an authentic Christian life.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
We personally may look like the example in Acts. Or we may lean a little more toward churchianity…
What some are calling “Churchianity”
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT mean that everyone in the body of Christ is missing it. I’m very blessed to attend a church that does operate much like the early Acts church. However, there are many places where the Truth has been diluted little by little over time. This message is NOT to condemn those churches or people. Instead, it’s a message of correction and a calling for more–to edify and restore the church to her true image in Christ! ♥
So if the church doesn’t look like her true image, what is she operating in?
Many are calling it “churchianity.” Putting it simply, churchianity comes from following the traditions of men instead of embodying the message of Christ. It’s about keeping just the outward appearance of holiness instead of choosing true intimacy with God that brings holiness from the inside out. It’s going through the motions and doing the right things without the motivational source of a relationship with the King.
And unfortunately, it’s a bit of an epidemic in American churches.
Back to Basics: What does being a “Christian” mean?
So what does it truly mean to be a Christian?
We know that it’s not just going to church on Sunday and trying to do the “right” things for the rest of the week.
It’s also not subscribing to strange practices that aren’t biblically supported and don’t grow from being connected to God.
First and foremost, as the word “Christian” literally means “little Christ,” being a Christian means having a relationship with Jesus. Through Him, we know God the Father and are infused with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Be careful of any teaching that claims to be “Christian” but diminishes Christ.)
How the Body of Christ SHOULD Function (8 Principles)
All of the following ways are represented for us in the early church. They keep us from being diluted by the world so that we can walk in the fullness of our true design and live our best lives.
Communion with God
The point around which the rest of the Christian life hinges is a relationship with God, on all levels. That means we seek and know Him (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and let Him into every area of our lives (spirit, mind, will, emotions, and our physical selves). It means allowing Him to speak into us in whatever way He deems fit and seeking His direction in any steps we take.
This looks like:
- reading the Word
- prayer (which we’ll talk more about in a minute)
With reading the Word also comes studying and understanding Scripture. Truly knowing and seeking what God says and not just allowing others to feed us based on what they’ve already “chewed up” from the Word (or what they’ve been taught by other people).
Walking in the power of the Holy Spirit
Acts tells us how the early church grew. They walked in the power of the Holy Spirit. They were led by Him, cast demons out with Him, healed the sick with Him, and taught the Word through Him.
GUYS, WE ARE CAPABLE OF SO MUCH MORE THAN WE REALIZE. Not because of us, but the Spirit of Christ IN US!
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, He told His disciples about the Spirit. That it was actually better for them if He left so that He could send the Spirit to be with them (John 16:7)!
Then in Acts 1:8, He says:
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8 (NKJV)
Walking in the Holy Spirit is God’s will for our lives and is a witness to Jesus.
And through Him, WE ARE DEAD TO SIN! Read it again: DEAD.
If we truly live in such a way that we are dead to our fleshly earthness and are filled completely (not just spirit but also spilling out into every area of our souls [minds, wills, and emotions]) with the Holy Spirit, WE WILL NOT SIN. Because if we’re dead and it’s Christ who lives in our place, we know He’s not sinning!
A year ago, I never would have said something like that. So I know you may disagree. Study it out. Read the Word. Selah on it.
Constant fellowship & family
The early church spent time together DAILY.
Does fellowship and family mean that everyone agrees ALL the time? Nope. Even in Acts, we see disagreement. When that happened, did Paul and Barnabas, for example, decide to never speak to each other again? Did they start gossiping behind one another’s backs and trying to get their friends on their side? No. Sometimes they parted ways for a bit, did their own thing, and still called each other “brother.” Other times, they shared their own points of view, listened to one another, and talked through differences.
But either way, they remained family, unified under the headship of Christ.
SIDE NOTE:: You may be wondering how to stay unified with someone if they are spreading beliefs that seem dangerous. I definitely get it. So let’s ask ourselves one question when deciding how to move forward: does this person have a relationship with Jesus? If the clear answer is yes, this person is part of the body of Christ! We talk to that person about our concerns. We edify them. We listen. And then we measure our next steps by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
If the answer is “maybe not,” that’s a whole different story. Maybe this person is spreading something that seems Christian on the surface but actually diminishes Jesus or takes Him out of the equation. Ask the Holy Spirit if they are operating as a false prophet/teacher and allow God to guide you in reaching out to them, turning away, or in some cases, exposing what’s really going on. Only God can lead you in what to do in that situation.
Prayer & fasting
Prayer aligns our minds with God. It’s an open conversation back and forth between us and our Creator.
Some are saying, “sure, of course prayer is important, but FASTING?!”Should fasting REALLY be a part of Christian life?Click To Tweet
Yes, fasting. This isn’t a work. It’s not a way for us to earn right standing with God. We only have that through Jesus. Instead, fasting silences our flesh and allows us to hear God more clearly. And it comes with a promise of blessing. (Also note that Jesus talks about “when you fast” and not “if you fast.” Fasting is an integral part of life for the believer.)
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 6:16-18 (NKJV)
I could do an entirely separate post on fasting. So for now, I’ll leave it there.
Serving those in need
Serving those in need is a way to love on them in a manner that actually matters TO THEM. It’s not just words but an action. Doing something to show love instead of only proclaiming love.
We’re the hands and feet of Jesus (I know, we hear it a lot. But it’s true!). When we do something for those who are hurting, we honor Him (and it’s as if we’re doing it for Him).
Faith that’s bigger than any circumstance
The early church faced persecution, imprisonment, and death (all of which are WAY more serious than anything I’ve ever let hinder me). Yet, they had an unshakable strength to push forward and continue in the good work of the Lord.
Spreading the true message of the gospel
And that good work of the Lord was spreading the truth of His Son and His love for the nations. That His plan and His holiness overcame sin so that we can all live in the Light and walk in His Way! Hallelujah ♥
Part of being a Christian is wanting others to see truth and experience the overwhelming goodness of God for themselves.
We all know that there’s a wrong way to do it, and we’ve seen the fruit that comes from that. The people in today’s hurting world are tired of Christians who beat people up with the Word of God. That was never the intended purpose of scripture.
Instead, love people in the way God loves them. Embody His glory, and be a living testimony for others to see. Use your words to share your own testimony to those with the ears to hear. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in discerning who is ready to hear what.
It may be easier to either:
- just shout scripture to point out wrong or
- stay completely silent
But neither is biblical.
A healthy view of money
Notice that early on in Acts, they all sold what they had and divided it as there was need.
It was of no consequence to them because money is only a tool. In and of itself, it’s not inherently bad or inherently good. We know that the love of it is the root of all evil, but we also see money being used for good throughout scripture.
So as Christians, we need to maintain a healthy view of money. We shouldn’t love or serve it. But its not evil to have it or to use it for the kingdom and helping those in need.
What are your thoughts? Post them in the comment section below!
Until next time,
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