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How to Identify a Christian

07 Jun
from Google Images

from Google Images

Don’t you think it is odd to understand that neither the Apostles’ Creed nor the Nicene Creed offer a single statement about love?[1] Theology seems to be the most important thing when it comes to us wanting to identify someone as Christian or not. We test one another according to this or that creed, or whether or not we embrace this or that doctrine! Yet, Christ tells us that we would be known by our fruits (Matthew 7:15-20), and the identifying fruit is one’s love for the brethren (John 13:35). Isn’t it odd that God’s people have shifted the emphasis for the mark of a Christian?

I knew a young man in the Lord who attended a Bible college in California. He was in his final semester but was told he couldn’t graduate. The problem didn’t have anything to do with his knowledge of the Bible or how well he knew the doctrines the college professed. Rather it had to do with his changing his position on their dispensational teaching on the pre-tribulation rapture! All prospective graduates had to sign a paper saying they believed in the pre-trib rapture. By his graduation date he could no longer do that, so he didn’t receive a diploma. He wasn’t judged on his ability or his knowledge of the Bible or what the college taught, but upon his embracing or not embracing a particular doctrine. Is there any Christian school or college that grade on love? It seems that someone with little or no integrity could graduate any Christian school even though he lacked love for the brethren, as long as he said the correct things doctrinally. Yet, brethren who think differently and have the integrity to admit it no matter the cost are treated differently.

Jesus once told his accusers that the greatest commandment was to love God, and the second greatest was to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:35-40). In point of fact, the entire Old Testament hangs upon these two commandments, and it seems that the entire New Testament hangs upon two commandments as well—namely, believe Christ and love one another as Jesus loves us (1John 3:23) and by doing this we show we love God (1John 5:1-2), for if we don’t love our brother, it is impossible to say truthfully that we love God (1John 4:20). Moreover, we neither know God nor serve him, if we don’t believe Jesus whom God sent (John 5:37-38; 6:28-29), so how can anyone say he loves God if he doesn’t know him or serve him. Therefore, obeying the two commandments, namely, believe Jesus and love one another as Jesus loves us is the only proof of our love for God.

Nevertheless, love is not big business in Christianity, never has been. Historically, if Christians always obeyed Jesus’ commandment to love one another as he loved us, Christians would have never persecuted other Christians (or anyone else for that matter). If we obeyed this commandment today, we wouldn’t have charlatans making themselves rich off the offerings of widows and orphans. We wouldn’t have people of notable names in Christian circles living like kings and queens, through the offerings of brethren who barely have enough from paycheck to paycheck. Moreover, the Body of Christ wouldn’t continue to stand by while such things happen. Isn’t it odd that no one in the Body of Christ speaks out against such things for the sake of love for the brethren?

I find it telling that Paul uses the human body to express how the service of the Body of Christ should operate. The characteristics of the human body are a testimony to the love and the servant heart of God. Not one part of our human body exists for its own benefit. The legs, for example, serve the entire body, transporting it to wherever it pleases to go. The hands serve the body in many ways: dressing, medicinal purposes, feeding, working etc. They don’t exist to serve themselves. The eyes don’t operate in order to benefit the eyes, but to serve the needs of the body, and the same can be said for hearing, tasting, smelling etc. In fact, if one of the more fragile parts of the body like the eyes is in danger, another part like the hands automatically comes up to take the abuse and protect the eyes. The whole human body testifies of the loving work of God and is pointed to by Paul as an example of how we should hold one another up in greater esteem than ourselves (cp. 1Corinthians 12:14-24 and Romans 12:10).

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

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3 Comments

Posted by on June 7, 2015 in Jesus

 

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3 responses to “How to Identify a Christian

  1. Return of Benjamin

    June 7, 2015 at 23:02

    Christians talk about the “legalism” of Judaism, but Judaism is a lot more open to creedal differences and speculations. I’d argue that Christianity’s main problem is “creedism”–it doesn’t care how you live, just what you profess.

    Shalom.

     
    • Eddie

      June 8, 2015 at 05:09

      Greetings Rabbi Mike, and thanks for reading and for your comment. I have found that to be true too often in my experience. Yet, not everyone reacts to their brethren that way. I am a member of a church now who receives me not because of what I believe, for some of the doctrines this particular denomination is known for I cannot embrace as true. I was glad to see that they could do such a thing, and not just for me, but for others as well. Christ is the main thing, as long as we can agree about things pertaining to him (like Jesus is our only Savior etc.), all is well. :-)

       

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