Recently, someone posted an article on Facebook with the same title as this week’s article. As I read and reflected on it, I felt it would make a good column, so here it is.
Years ago while serving as a missionary in the Philippines, quite often one of the Filipinos would ask, "Ikaw ba ang membro sa mga born-agains?" ("Are you one of those ‘born-agains’?"). This basically was a derogatory question since it applied to certain Christian fringe groups in the PI who were quite often the butt of jokes or recipients of verbal attacks.
I pondered how to answer the question in a way that would shed new light on the subject, since I am born-again, but not a member of those groups. So, I would reply "Oo, pero dili sama sa imong panghunahuna" ("Yes, but not the way you’re thinking").
This would then give me an opportunity to share what a true Christian is and why I am one. And, in light of the current climate of misunderstanding and distrust of the term "Christian," I hope this column will help you and others better understand the meaning.
The word "Christian" basically means "little Christ." Simply put, it means "an imitator, devotee or disciple of Christ." That’s why a lot of younger believers today say "I’m a follower of Christ" instead of "Christian" when asked — for they’re seeking to avoid the stereotype by some that all Christians are Bible-thumping, foaming-at-the-mouth, judgmental fundamentalists and Republicans.
Thus, when I use the term "Christian" I’m saying that I, too, am a follower of Jesus, the Promised, Anointed, "only-begotten Son" of God. It also says I believe the Bible is the inspired
Word of God and what it has to say about Who Jesus was/is and what He came to do during His time here on earth. And, in a mysterious way I cannot understand or adequately explain, it says I was "born again" at age seven when I realized I was a lost sinner and asked Jesus to come live in my heart, which He did.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean I’m "somebody come;" it means I was a nobody, living without hope or meaning in this world, but adopted into God’s Family. It means I was a guilty sinner who’s been pardoned by God because of Jesus’ Death on the Cross.
Likewise, it doesn’t mean I’m perfect; it means I’m forgiven. It doesn’t mean I get a "free pass to Go" and special immunity from troubles; it does mean I get sufficient Grace to endure my trials, problems, heartaches, etc., and a Friend named Jesus to walk with me through life.
Although I didn’t understand much about God or the Bible at age 7, I still remember that night in that little country church in Kerr, Ark., when I realized that God loved me and sent Jesus to die for me on the Cross. As an abandoned, but newly-adopted child by a couple who couldn’t have children, I felt so lonely and unloved.
But, that night "something" happened.
And, that "something" was a beautiful miracle of Jesus coming to live within my heart, promising to "never leave me or forsake me" (Hebrews 13:5b). Later on I’d also find consolation in Psalm 27:10, which says "Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up" — and that’s exactly what happened that night. Hallelujah!
As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:16a, "I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." For some 53 years now I’ve been one of His followers and studying His Word. And, for almost 45 years I’ve preached His Good News literally all around the world.
So, yes, I am a Christian and thankful for the privilege of sharing Jesus’ Love with those I meet. I’m not into trying to convert them to my beliefs or proselytizing them to become a member of my denomination. As someone said, "I’m simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread"—and that Bread is Jesus.
Here’s hoping that you, too, have experienced firsthand God’s forgiveness and Gift of eternal life through Christ. If not, it’s simply a matter of praying, confessing your utter need of Him and His Forgiveness and asking Jesus to come live within your heart. He’s only a prayer away; why don’t you call on Him right now? God bless you.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.