By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“On Being Christian”
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church…” –Matthew 16:18
I’m often asked… “What does it mean to be Christian? Really?” … It’s not a foolish question but a good enough one to address in an article like this even with no way of verifying if anyone ever reads it. Or cares. Yet, with the religious confusion across the country… I’d be crazy not to try… and just to make a point when asked this question, I reply with a few of my own… “In America? Ireland? Ethiopia? Where? Does location matter?” For me, at least, that makes the response worthy of engaging… So… go with me here… it could be more fun than you think!
First, to be ‘CHRISTIAN’ is to be called a dirty word! That’s right. To be called Christian in the 1st century was not a term of endearment. Think “road-kill” or “feral hog” because when people were called this first in Antioch … it was not a compliment. Jesus, however, called us friends! Start there. Move ahead with hope.
Second, to be called ‘CHRISTIAN’ meant that someone aligned their life with the life of Christ. It started with 12 men, then 70, then 100’s then 1000’s… not all on the same day, mind you, but over time as people responding positively to the call to “Follow ME…” a thing which remains risky… You wanna be Christian? Well, then that might mean loving God with all your heart and mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself which is the answer Jesus gave when asked what the most important thing in life is… Yep. That kind of Christian… even though the TV news folks rarely point that out… faith matters… it truly does!
A third way of being ‘CHRISTIAN’ involves our hands and feet… not just our mouths! While 90+% of America says they believe in God and all that, with a recent report of 83% claiming to be Christian… our truth-telling is challenged as barely 20% of America is in a house of worship on any given Sunday. Pre-COVID-19. Do the math. Have you been in a Sunday morning traffic jam of late? In Luke’s gospel, he says ‘Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his custom…’ which sort of implies that people who follow Jesus will follow his lead on the importance of weekly worship… if you want to be Christian… start with weekly worship… make a plan… build your life’s calendar around that. Jesus didn’t have a smart phone… but worship was in his spiritual clock’s #1 place …
“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none… a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all and subject to all.” – Martin Luther ________________________________
Fourth… my favorite number… answering “What does it mean to be a ‘CHRISTIAN?’ the writings of St. Paul qualify that ‘Christian’ really is a PLURAL term… not an individual identity… as no one can be a Christian without associating with OTHER Christians… as Jesus made that real clear… “where two or more are gathered in my name…there I am in their midst…”
Fifth and last… being ‘CHRISTIAN’ is to find yourself clinging to the images mentioned in The Lord’s Prayer and The Beatitudes. Google those terms… read them as if your life depended on it… as our Christian living, therefore, is about both BEING and DOING… about what we say and don’t say and about what has been done and left undone! It’s a process… a life-long one… Jesus said, “I will build my church!” He will! So, trust the grace that comes only from God… a grace to engage you as you embrace becoming Christian each day!
The Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches over the last four decades in Texas and Louisiana. You can read more following his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Comments and / or questions can be sent to [email protected].