opinion

Pom in Oz with Derek Goforth: There is no rule book for being a Christian (not even the Bible)

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
What does it mean to be a Christian?
Camera IconWhat does it mean to be a Christian? Credit: Godong/UIG via Getty Images

Here is my little mini-testimony — I became a Christian when I was in my early 20s, brought to God, introduced to a church by friends, and I have not looked back since.

So what is a Christian?

During my 20-plus years as a Christian I have heard the phrase “that’s not very Christian of you” many times — for a multitude of reasons.

The last time I heard it was in reference to me taking part in a boxing match.

I believe boxing is a fine sport, although with obvious dangers.

I don’t believe there is anything immoral or un-Christian about it.

However, that view is not shared by all.

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To some, a sport that involves hitting another person simply does not fit in the (perhaps) cliched image of a passive, non-violent Christian.

I have heard the phrase un-Christian for a lot of others reasons too — use of language, lifestyle choices — the list is long.

So it got me thinking — is there a universal definition as to what a Christian is?

Is there a list of rules and regulations or even guidelines that, if followed, will give you the title “Christian”?

The simple answer is no, absolutely not. You might think the Bible would be the source of such rules and requirements, and to some extent it is.

The Bible is actually quite clear about what you need to “do” to be a Christian — but it is open to perspective.

I myself often do things, say things and interact in a way that I’m not proud of, which don’t coincide with Christian actions. But as humans we are flawed, we sin, and we fall away.

Jesus declared “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. In essence, this is what it means to be a Christian. But it also means so much more. It means to be a follower of Christ.

But how can you follow someone who died some 2000 years ago?

Again, this is a complex question, with so many answers.

Christians believe God is alive and well, a tangible presence in our world — with his teachings alive and well in the modern church.

But my original point was that a lot of people will judge your “Christian-ness” and your ability to fulfil your role as a follower of Christ from their perspective.

In some cases they may very well be correct.

I myself often do things, say things and interact in a way that I’m not proud of, which don’t coincide with Christian actions.

But as humans we are flawed, we sin, and we fall away.

The key here is not why we fall, or even how far we fall. It’s getting back up, asking for forgiveness, meaning it and moving forward.

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