To add to his eating noise, my four year old now has a thinking noise and a loving noise. The loving noise is in Spanish. He likes to wear a cape, his good guy bracelet, and carry a shield while he carries around Mannienewt (his imaginary squirrel) in his pocket. There are so many things I love about this boy, whose name is Batman for today, but one of my favorite things about him is that he is not afraid to be himself.
So when a friend asked on her facebook page, “What one trait would you love to instill in your child. Christian is a given,” I thought about my answer as I read the responses of other friends. I read so many wonderful qualities that thoughtful, precious parents desired to instill in their children. I read each one and agreed that being gracious, or a leader, or grateful, or kind, or sympathetic were certainly qualities that I wanted my son to grow in. In thinking about how much I loved my son’s individuality and how I hope he never loses that under pressures to fit in with others, I decided to type this for my answer. But I was hitting delete before I finished my sentence, because I realized that no one has ever been truer to Himself, His purpose, and His identity than Christ.
I realized then that I needed to renew my definition of a Christian. Yes, a Christian is one who has heard, believed, repented, confessed, been baptized, and tries to live a faithful life. Yes, a Christian should be at worship and be one who is religious. Yes, a Christian should be one who lives a moral life. But, somewhere along the way, I had forgotten that the word Christian means so much more. It means to be like Christ. And in being like Christ, I will have obeyed the commands to become a child of God; I will be honored to assemble to worship my Father, and I will strive to live a moral and upright life before God and man, but really, those are just the basics; the givens among a life much fuller and much more conscious of striving to be Christ-like.
If I am to be a Christian, I am to be thankful. Mark 14:23 tells us that Christ “took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.” Christ gave thanks for the cup, for the fruit of the vine that was to be a remembrance of blood that he would shed in a cruel and violent death for an ungrateful humanity. If Christ gave thanks in this instance, to be Christ like, I should surely be taking more opportunities to be thankful for the many blessings in my life.
If I am to be a Christian, I should be gracious. Christ was gracious to so many as he went about teaching and healing those who were sick. He was gracious when he told the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:10-12). He was gracious to the children and their parents who wanted to see Him, and he told his disciples to “let the little children come to me and do not forbid them” (Mark 10:13-15). He was gracious as he told a tax collector to come down from a tree, and he went to visit at his house-despite the objections of those who were supposed to be religious (Luke 19). Jesus took the time to respond to people who were in need of graciousness and mercy, and He changed their lives. Perhaps by taking the time to respond to people with graciousness, I can lead others to Christ, truly believing He can still change lives.
If I am to be a Christian, I am to be a leader. Christ took twelve apostles who were largely uneducated, poor, and ordinary, and taught them to change not only their lives, but the world in which they lived through the gospel. Christ taught that His followers are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5). If I am to be like Christ, it must be my mission to lead people to God.
And if I am to be a Christian, I must not change who I am in order to fit in with others. Others expected Christ to be born as royalty, to be a military leader, to set up an earthly kingdom. They certainly didn’t expect him to be born in a stable, converse with a Samaritan woman, and submit to a cruel death. Christ’s identity as the Son of God was steadfast in the face of temptation, betrayal, and death. If I am to be like Christ, I must know that I am created and loved by God for the person He made me to be, and not listen to the world’s attempts to have me fit in to any other expectations that are contrary to the will of God.
` I am thankful to my friend for her thoughtful question, and to the responses that prompted me to think so much more about what it means when being a Christian is a given. And since I have considered that being thankful, kind, sympathetic, gracious, humble, strong, a leader, a person who is unafraid to be Himself would all be present in one who is striving to be like Christ, I think my answer to my friend’s question would be something along the lines of hoping Batman learns to be a great cook who loves to clean the dishes.
Hinson, Kristy. "When Christian is a Given." Think June 2012: 24. Print.