This afternoon I rediscovered the draft of an old blog I wrote a long time ago. It began, “Tonight, I find myself asking the question: “What does it mean to be a Christian?” What quintessential belief does one have to hold in order to enjoy the right to call oneself Christian? Strange, but I’ve never really asked myself the question.” Now, I cannot stop thinking about it, especially as we live in an age when one’s appearance is valued so much more than one’s character.
First, I think you have to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. You have to believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God. You can’t just say, “I believe in what he believed in,” or “I follow his teachings and try to live by them.” To me, that’s not good enough. (Maybe for you, but not for me.) Not only was he a rabbi, a teacher, prophet, he could perform miracles, the first account of which appears in the Bible at John 2: 1-11, the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding:
Kings James Version, John 2:1-11
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
You have to embrace the miraculous. Jesus dealt in the supernatural. If you do not believe in the divinity of Christ, then to me, you’re not a true Christian. You still may endeavor to live by Christian principles as expressed in Jesus’ two commandments:
Matthew 22: 37-39
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
If you truly live by these principles, however, meaning you believe in God, and you love Him with all your heart, soul and mind, then you have to take it on faith that Jesus was His one and only son, the intercession between Himself and his creation, man. I cannot get involved in absolute proof that Jesus existed. I do not need to, because I have accepted through faith that he did exist and through faith that he performed miracles in my life and in the lives of others, and he continues to do so through this day. This point is where you lose a person who instantly becomes a Doubting Thomas:
John 20: 25″
But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
He or she wants proof and without faith, there is no proof. I would argue that faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, my faith, has shown me proof. Not that I looked for it, but here is my proof:
1. I believe Jesus put His hand on my shoulder to comfort me and give me strength and courage at my father’s funeral. (Even there, I had already acknowledged divinity to believe that He was behind me.
2. More recently, I believe that He met my friend Carol at her hospital window when she, who had lain bedridden, rose to walk to the window–where she died. Her last words, “It’s so beautiful!”
3. I have seen further evidence of his presence in my own life when I was dying of a septic infection: My last words to the surgeon who removed a toxic kidney stone from my kidney before I went under anesthesia, “May God guide your hand.” After I had recovered, my primary care physician told me he had been thoroughly impressed by the skill of the surgeon, that what the surgeon had done was “a one in a hundred shot,” retrieving the stone the first time he tried. How else is that possible, except by the guiding hand of the Lord? At the time, I said, “[m]ay God,” but as I grow in my understanding of the Bible, I perceive it was Jesus’ hand that healed me.
To be Christian then, one must fully embrace faith in a divine Jesus Christ. One must believe, first. Believing one must then strive to live by Jesus’ two commandments as expressed in Matthew 22: 37-39.
(Photo credit at top of page-fish symbol: Thoom/Shutterstock)