What does it mean to be a Christian?
John Telgren

Misunderstanding: What I find interesting is that the term, "Christian" was a name given to followers of Christ by opponents. It didn't originate among Christians. "Christianos," meant "of the party of Christ." It almost sounds like a sect, or even a social/political group, which demonstrates among other things that people misunderstood Christianity. This is to be expected because Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned by those who have the Spirit, which are Christians.

Disciple: It is more important that Christians understand what Christians are. The most common designation in scripture seems to be "disciple." A disciple is much more than a church attendee, a program participant, or one who can speak Christianese. A disciple is one who is devoted to Christ as his model, teacher, and authority in life. A disciple is one who "becomes like" his teacher (Lk 6:40).

So, Christ calls us to be like him. He calls us to display what he did in his life, such as love, gentleness, humility, righteousness, kindness, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness, integrity, honesty, joy, and peace. He calls us to serve others, to turn the other cheek, to give our shirt when asked for our cloak, to love our enemies. He calls us to be completely devoted to God, to Love God first and foremost and to love others. He calls us to treat other people with honor and dignity. He calls us to live above the world while yet in the world. He calls us to be holy, set apart for God as vessels to be used for God's purposes. He calls us to God's purposes and mission in our life. He calls us to let God order our purposes.

The Process: How does this happen? I have found it doesn't happen magically or automatically. These attitudes and behaviors come as a result of God's transforming work on us through discipline. The most important disciplines are things such as regular prayer and Bible reading. Also important is self-reflection time with God and with a brother. There are other disciplines, but these are among the most important. I have found that when the discipline of Bible reading and prayer is absent, it shows in the way we react to life, the way we treat other people, and in our character.

Soaking: I remember something from a toy store that was supposed to soak in water overnight. It was tiny and you couldn't tell what it was. But after soaking overnight, it grew and its features became apparent. It was a figure of a face. It is that way with these spiritual disciplines. When we do not soak in the word and in prayer, we are small and it is hard to see what we are supposed to be. If we just periodically dip in these disciplines, the result would but a little better, but not much different. However, when we commit to soak ourselves in Bible reading, prayer, self-reflection, and accountability, we become grow in Christ and his image shows up in our life. Those of us around us can see the beauty of Christ in our lives.