I have a question for all those that may read this that aren’t Christians. Have you ever accused someone of “Not being a Christian”, because they didn’t measure up to your idea of what a Christian should be like? Our society today tends to have an idea of what a Christian may be in their heads. They think we should be meek, quiet, naive people without an opinion and if we have an opinion they stand at the ready to cross-check that with an out of context verse or two. We have fact checkers everywhere these days, and many times they have been wrong.
But if I asked you personally, as a Christian, “what would a Christian look like”, would you have an answer?
Many don’t. Many think even after salvation that going to Church, reading their Bible and trying to be good is all that matters in Christianity. But do we honestly think that just because we have salvation that our earthly deeds matter more? Do you think they please God because we went to a soup kitchen, or fed the poor, or went out of our way to volunteer at an animal shelter?
No it doesn’t. Isaiah 64:6 tells us simply “We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” The question then becomes: well if that’s the case why should anyone do anything “good”?
We all can do good but we have to do it in God’s time and what He wants us to do. Later down the chapter Isaiah goes into further detail concerning how we are to act with respect to how God wants us to act. Verse 8 has Isaiah replying to God “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” If we’re not moved by the Spirit to do something, everything else is in vain. Sure, we can do good things to have our testimony reach people, but if God doesn’t specifically instruct us to do it, it is through our own power and not His.
Back to the original question, “What would a Christian look like?”. Isaiah made a point that will continue on for the rest of the post. In his reply to God, he tell Him that he is like clay and wants to be molded to fit God’s idea for his ministry and for his nation. As Christians, we should ask the same. And the Apostle Paul agrees while also giving us a list of things that should naturally come out of us if we are in fellowship with our Lord.
This is generally known as the fruit of the spirit and these fruits are : love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness and self-control. We should all show these daily in every conversation and interaction. Even then, however, people will pick apart (especially online) everything we say or do. So what else are we to look at about how a Christian should act?
Paul also tells us a hallmark of a true Christian is the following: Love good, Love one another, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, constantly in prayer, bless everyone, do not repay evil with evil, do everything with honor, try to live peaceably with everyone to the best of our ability, and finally, leave all vengence to God.
These are what we are commanded as Christians on how to live. There are no laws against the fruit of the spirit or the list Paul wrote above in Romans 12. Our way to following what God would have for us, is to be good and move through life with as little strife as possible. We are to seek peace, as our God is the God of peace. In the case we do find ourselves in strife (as we are fallible human beings), we are to act in a way that no one can fault us except our adversary.
Finally, I’ll ask one more time, and I will give an answer no one will like. “What does a Christian look like?”.
Yes, a Christian looks like a hypocrite. As R.C. Sproul once said “We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.” Salvation doesn’t change any of that, salvation doesn’t make one perfect, it doesn’t stop anyone from being fallible. It simply gives us a hope and a relationship with our Creator. As much as we try to “be good”, or display the fruits of the spirit or attempt to follow Paul’s lead or love God and our neighbors, we are going to fail.
When we do, we know God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9). That is what salvation is for! Because we are imperfect. Jesus died so that we may one day attain perfection in Heaven. Christ didn’t die for perfect people -because honestly there aren’t any- He died for people who are going to screw up, who are going to make bad choices, who are going to come crawling back because they thought they could do something themselves. That doesn’t mean anything I said is “ok” or right, it just means I’m being realistic.
So what now? Let the world just rip us apart? Yes, because they’ll hate us just as much as they hated Christ. They don’t know how a Christian should act, they simply tell us how they think a Christian should act. We, as Christians, follow a book that is ancient, that was given to us by an omnipotent and all-knowing God. I would rather follow what that guidebook has to say about how I should act versus what someone says they think I should act. At the end of my life, I will not be answering to them, but both of us will be answering to God.