We call ourselves “Christian”. Ask most anyone if they are a “Christian” and the usual response is, “yes, I am.” Taking a step back and looking at the lives of those who lay claim to the name can reveal the major cause of the confusion as to the true identity of a Christian. Simply put, it is about the title alone. The question at hand is, “By whose authority do I call myself Christian?”
My question of concern is this, “Who gives us the authority to use that title?” We take that title and apply it to ourselves when it is the almighty ME that has defined what it means to be a Christian. I use that title to describe myself and my relationship to a savoir that I create, who, most often, has the name Jesus. I conjure up what this savior wants and expects of me. I allow others, who believe in the same savior, to tell me more deeply what this savior expects or wants to give me. In our vast religious landscape, I can search around to find a group of people who accept the same savior as myself. If they do not, then I say, “That church is not for me.”
I fear that many who call themselves “Christian” do not realize the impact of that title. The religious landscape in our land is broad and wide, and many in this land who lay claim to the name Christian do so without any authority. We are told that WE can decide what it means to be “Christian”. We make up the rules of being a “Christian”. We tell ourselves we belong to God and that He is happy that we are His. Who gave us the authority to decide what is Christian and what is not? Who gave us the authority to decide what a Christian is? Who gave us the authority to even define the word “Christian”? The truthful answer, at least to most carrying the name, is no one!
There appear to be many different versions of “Christian” in our world; all with different beliefs, characteristics, and lifestyles. No two are the same. No one version is any better or more right than any of the others. It seems that our search for Christianity is like a kid’s trip to Build-A-Bear, where you can build your own Jesus anyway you like him. No authority needed!
More times than I can count, there have been individuals who have made the news by impersonating an officer, a crime punishable by lengthy jail sentences. Common citizens will purchase a uniform, strap on a handgun, button a badge on their shirts that they bought at the Dollar Tree and equip their vehicle with lights from a J.C. Whitney catalog. They are now police officers! But wait you say? By whose authority are they police officers? My point exactly! There are no self-proclaimed police officers! No one would obey the commands of a self-proclaimed police officer.
The same is true of many who claim to be Christian. By whose authority are we Christian? If I do not possesses the needed authority, then who does? I can tell you for sure, it is not any savior created by man’s imagination or desire! Only one higher than ourselves has such authority. If I, or anyone else, desire to wear that title, I need to approach the only One who has the authority to give me that name—the real Jesus!
The title “Christian” is much more that the commonly accepted ideal. Contrary to popular belief, it is also more than belief or acceptance to a set of rules, or a personal acceptance of the existence of Jesus—even the Real Jesus. Furthermore, the title cannot be conferred upon an individual by a congregation or religious leader. It can only be conferred by the One which the title speaks of, that being Christ Jesus!
Many may say, “I strongly believe in Jesus and go to church every Sunday! I even serve in the church and am a very generous giver!” Some may even go so far as teaching and/or preaching. Yet they may be a Christian in title only! Why? Because they have taken the title for themselves without having it conferred upon them by the One who has the authority to give it to them.
Here is my point. Just because I call myself a Christian, does not mean I am a Christian in the eyes of God. I may do and say all the right things—as taught by the religious sect with which I have chosen to identify myself—but I have not rightly earned the title. I rightly earn the title when I submit to the authority of the only One who can give it. Moreover, I must earn it by adhering to the standards set by the One who has the authority to give it, which again, is Jesus Christ. Many who claim the name have laid hold of it according to how their chosen religious sect dictates, or worse yet, how they want to lay hold of it. Again, does any religious sect or individual have the authority to confer the title that belongs to Christ alone? Absolutely not!
How does a person have the name conferred upon himself by Christ? By consulting and following the only source of authority given to man—God’s Word, the Bible. No one, let me say again, no one will ever become a Christian in the eyes of God outside of what is written in the holy Scriptures! Furthermore, no one will become a Christian where the Scriptures are consulted only to confirm one’s beliefs. For instance, some say infant baptism is a must, while others say that no baptism of any kind is necessary, both using Scripture to support their beliefs. Which is right? Only the one who accepts what the Word teaches, not their hearts or religious traditions. No one will be conferred the title of Christian outside of the will of God!
Are you a Christian? If so, are you a disciple? Can you point out in Scripture where you have the authority for claiming the title? A Christian is a disciple who has searched for and found the authority from whom to accept the title. A Christian has the title given to him, he does not take it. It is given to him by the one who the name describes—Christ.
The Christian is not a person of religion, but is the voluntary property of Jesus, his Lord. The Christian is not the servant of a savior, but of the Savior! He does not adhere to the dead words of a savior, but clings to the life-giving words of the Savior! He does not belong to a church or a religious body; he belongs to Christ Jesus his Lord! Christian means ownership and submission to Christ alone! There is no “me” in Christian, nor is there any us. It is about Him, His will, His authority, and His Lordship! For me to say I am a Christian means that I understand and accept His authority in my life. If I do not or will not, then I cannot rightly carry that wonderful title of Christian. So I ask, by whose authority do you take the name Christian?