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‘Who do you say that you are?’

There are times when I don’t want to call myself a Christian. Not because I’m ashamed of my faith, but because the people who use that label are often people with whom I don’t want to be associated. I have sometimes toyed with the idea of not using it. Even calling for us all to stop using it.

But “Christian” means follower of Christ and I want to be a follower of Christ. Christ loved when it was painful and called out the powerful for their abuse of those without power. He put away the gun and was executed. He showed that there are no boundaries on God’s love.

“Christian” is a word that this world still needs. What it means is something this world desperately still needs. I don’t want this word to lose all its meaning. I don’t want to cede it to people whose primary agenda is resisting social change or reinforcing existing power structures.

So here it is:

If you’re sacrificing the well-being of another for your own; you aren’t being a Christian.

It you’re remaining silent in the face of cruelty and hate; you aren’t being a Christian.

If you’re ignoring the poor and marginalized; you aren’t being a Christian.

If you’re hurling vitriol at those you disagree with; you aren’t being a Christian.

If you’re seeking worldly power; you aren’t being a Christian.

If you’re seeking the suffering of any; you aren’t being a Christian.

Following Christ means imitating Jesus. It transcends ideology, political party, ethnicity, or anything else. It means believing that God is at the centre of all things and that the best expression of God’s love is the self-giving of Christ. It means I’m called to act as the servant of all. Anyone who uses the term Christian to self-identify, in a sermon or in a Twitter bio, but doesn’t imitate the self-giving love of Christ is worse than a “sounding gong or a noisy cymbal”.

I know I’m a poor imitator of Christ and I don’t follow as faithfully as I should. But my failures don’t change what it means to follow Christ. I pray that following Christ might somehow redeem my failures.

Pray with me that we all be given the grace to be Christians.

About Trevor Freeman

Trevor Freeman serves the parish of St. Mary’s East Kelowna and is the Executive Archdeacon for the Diocese of Kootenay. He still has days where he looks around and can’t quite believe how far God has brought him. During downtime he can be found with a good book, a properly strong cup of tea, at the gym, or playing golf badly. And if he’s honest, binge watching Netflix.

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9 Responses to ‘Who do you say that you are?’

  1. “It you’re remaining silent in the face of cruelty and hate; you aren’t being a Christian.” So what you are saying is that the church is not christian because of its silence on the cruelty of abortion….I would agree. “Following Christ means imitating Jesus.” I would also agree , Jesus never opposed or went against the truths that were revealed in Gods word. He said “If you love me you will keep my commandments” and also “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” I do believe that there are many that “self-identify” as Christian yet do not agree with the moral standard He has established from before the foundations of the earth.” I don’t want to cede it to people whose primary agenda is resisting social change….” So what you are saying is that you don’t want to cede “christianity ” to people who stand behind the scriptures and the scripture that says “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” (AMP)

  2. All how you treat people

  3. A ‘Christian’ is one who accepts the truth of Christ as the Son of God. By this measure, even satan is a Christian. If you are talking about activities, you would more properly say ‘a GOOD Christian’. C. S. Leeis discusses this in ‘Mere Christianity’.

    • Fair enough and I appreciate you raising this. I really have no desire to undermine the reality that we are saved by faith and not by works. The challenge is that the way our faith is viewed by those who are not Christians is being negatively impacted by those who may assent to teachings of the church but who speak publicly words of anger or hate or ignorance.

      Orthodoxy (right belief) should lead to orthopraxy (right action). As a community of faith, how do we challenge those whose intellectual assent may be to the creeds of the church but whose action seems antithetical to Christ’s love? And is there a difference between how we offer that challenge in the public square as opposed to within the walls of the church?

      Thanks again for your comment. Mere Christianity was a book I found deeply helpful as my faith matured and I still remember reading it with fondness and appreciation.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’m struggling with the same thing. Great perspective and inspiring words.

  5. Well said, This defines the “5” Marks of Mission” of the Anglican Church.

  6. I’m Brianna Nicolas,seeking for a God fearing man with strong family value,hope to get a message from him soon………….

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