Identifying a True Christian

On January 20th, 2013, my life changed drastically in an instant. In the span of maybe an hour, I went from looking for trouble at the bar to being distraught at the realization that I was at the mercy of a God I didn’t know. All that is a story for another day. For now, I’ll just share that today is my spiritual birthday. For people that actually know me, that might sound like a strange proclamation.

I was the spiritual guy of the bunch before then, right? I went to church, didn’t do drugs, tried to do the right thing and etc, right? Some people were there in 2007 when I got a tattoo of Jesus on my left arm. They’d tell you I’ve been a Christian as long as they’ve known me. Back then, I’d have agreed with them. I was just as wrong about me as they were back then.

It may have seemed like I got some of those things from this passage right. Maybe I did. I tried to be mindful of others and generous with the things I had. Lots of bonds were formed from the embrace of total strangers with no direction and no where to go. I’d like to think that many of the exchanges made back then were altruistic in nature. I surely wasn’t getting much, if anything, in return for sacrifices I was making. Yet, those decisions were made for me. I wasn’t really serving God or others, but the identity I was building up for myself.

“Contribute to the needs of the saints”. If you would’ve asked me, I wouldn’t have had a clue what that meant. Yeah, I went to church semi-regularly, but I had no idea what pressing in to deep fellowship really meant. I was involved in trivial surface level stuff with most. There were precious few I made any type of effort to maintain a relationship with outside of a Sunday gathering.

I was given the name “Brotha B”. I believed in God, went to church and loved complete strangers well. That summed up the person I was becoming, and I embraced it. Yet, I was not a Christian. I had no concept of the triune God of the scriptures. I had no idea that there was a price to pay that I couldn’t. I thought highly of the way I carried myself. I wasn’t a thief or murderer. God would forgive me for the petty sins I committed. There was no way I wasn’t getting into His house when all was said and done.

I’m blessed enough to be able to tell you that no, the person you knew back then was not a Christian. My good deeds were not good enough. As a matter of fact, God calls our inherent so-called “righteousness” filthy rags before Him. How could they not be? My intentions were never completely pure. I didn’t thank Him for the blessings I had or communicate with Him at all. I had no prayer life and didn’t read the bible.

How did I know what was written was true? Who was Jesus really? What’s God’s role in our lives? I didn’t have any answers. I didn’t even know what was written in the bible to begin with. I was comfortably blinded by my own ignorance. I was content to suppress the truth of my own sin and think of my better traits as well enough to tip the scales in my favor.

No. This is foolish talk. This is not how a Christian behaves. “The Marks of a True Christian” called my bluff and self deceit and I didn’t know. None of us can legitimately call ourselves Christian unless God calls us first. I was ignorant of even that back then. My life bore no “Fruit of the Spirit“. There was none to harvest. I would not hesitate to confess that there is a God, but I didn’t really serve Him. I was a fool. A fool God decided to rise from dead on this day six years ago.

Examine yourselves, friends. If you think your merit is enough to enter the kingdom, you are not a Christian. If you are not in fellowship and have no desire to be in fellowship, you are not a Christian. If the revelation of God’s holiness doesn’t move you to prayer, you are not a Christian. If you are not moved to worship by God’s long suffering patience and mercy, you are not a Christian. If you are not bothered by sin, any sin no matter how big or small, you are not a Christian. I say these things that are hard to hear because they are to be given a heavy consideration. Judgement and justice are not such a trivial thing that we should take lightly, as I once did (and honestly, I am in much repentence often for continued failings or bearing the marks of a Christian).

Seek Him and find Him. An embellished image of what we would like Him to be like will not be our Judge in the end. It will be Him as He has revealed Himself in the scriptures. If you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Dear friends, don’t be the fool I was. Don’t pay lip service. Confess it with your mouth and mean it in your heart.

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