Sunday, 18 October 2015

What is a Christian?

Talk given at the baptism of a child. The Bible text was Mark 10:35-45


  • Special day as Reuben is being brought to baptism.
  • But did you know that baptism itself does not make you a Christian. 
  • What baptism should do is mark you out as a Christian. 
  • For Reuben baptism marks the start of what I hope & pray will be his life long journey of faith with God.  He hasn’t arrived, this is just the start.  As the Chinese saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Well today for Reuben, baptism is that first step. 
  • The hope & prayer today, is that as Reuben will grow in his Christian faith. 
  • But what exactly is a Christian?
  • There are a lot of misconceptions about what a Christian is. 
    • Lots of people tell me they try to live a Christian life.  What they mean is they try to be a good person.  GREAT!  That’s really important.  But it doesn’t make you a Christian.  After all there are lots of people who lead good lives, who are kind, thoughtful & caring to other people, but that doesn’t make them Christians.  I know many good and kind Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhist and atheists, they’re obviously not Christians!
    • Some people believe a Christian is someone who goes to church.  GREAT!  That’s really important.  But going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.
  • So what is a Christian?
  • Put simply, a Christian is someone who follows Jesus Christ. 
  • You don’t have to be perfect and to have your whole life sorted out before you start following Jesus.  The truth is, I’m an imperfect person, following a perfect Saviour.   
  • As followers of Jesus Christ, we want to become more like Jesus.  That is what the name Christian means, ‘Little Christ’.  Living life his way.    
  • And what are the signs of becoming more like Jesus?  When people look at Reuben they are able to see something of his family in him, in terms of his physical appearance & but also in the person he is growing into.  The same should be true of people who follow Jesus.  They should be able to see something of Jesus in us.  As we become more like him, we will become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, full of goodness, and self control.  The Bible calls this the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It is the outworking of God Spirit in our lives.
  • Jesus summed up what it means to be one of his followers.  We are to love God with our whole being, and love one another, just as God loves us. 
  • It sounds simple doesn’t it?  But it can be hard.  That’s what Jesus was talking about in our Bible reading when he talked about not coming to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  If we’re serious about following Jesus there will be a cost involved. 
  • But that is why God gifts us the gift of his Holy Spirit, and his family, the church, to support us on our journey.
  • If Reuben stayed as a baby all his life, we’d consider that a tragedy.  We want him to grow and mature.  Likewise as followers of Jesus we need to be growing and  maturing.  If Reuben is going to grow as Christian faith, he will need help and support, that’s why baptism alone is not enough. 
  • The way we grow as Christians is through:
    • Prayer – talking to God
    • Reading the Bible, God’s living word
    • Worshipping God with other Christians
    • Putting God at the centre of our lives.
  • Choosing to follow Jesus isn’t choosing to take the easy path in life, but it’s choosing the path that leads to life.  As Jesus said “I have come that YOU may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.”  
  • If you’re sitting there & thinking “I’ve never made the decision to follow Jesus, but would like to”, I want to give you that opportunity today.  It’s so simple.  All you need to do is turn to Jesus, and ask him into your life.  I promise you, choosing Jesus is a decision you’ll never regret.