I was asked a random question whilst my pretty cup of tea was being poured. “Who was the first Christian?” I knew who they were thinking about and didn’t want to get into a theological discussion so allowed them their ‘Mary Magdalene’ and left the conversation hang as a gulped my tea.
Mary was the first to acknowledge Jesus as risen from the grave so could be named as the first Christian except for a few minor details.
The term Christian was coined by someone outside of the followers of Jesus after his death as derogatory term for them, as I understand it.
If Christian means follower of Jesus then the first called disciple was the first one.
Or if it someone who suddenly has the revelation of the trinity – Father, Son & Spirit then surely it is John the Baptist.
There is the argument that we are not Christian unless baptised by the Holy Spirit and so the first Christians were indeed those seated on the Day of Pentecost.
Other say not only all of the above but in obedience as an adult we must be baptised in water.
Is it enough to stand and say “I am a Christian?”
Would it not surely be better that by our actions someone else says “Are you a Christian?”
An altogether Christian not only keeps the law in spirit and truth, does good works whenever they can, spreads the word about the Gospel etc, etc, but lives by the scripture:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”
Responding to God’s love with love for all is how we are seen as different. Every Christian is called to love as Christ loves us.
John 3:16 which I won’t quote again is how much God loves us. He loves us enough to send his only son to die. Not only do we get eternal life in that agreement but we get adopted in his family.
[pause for a few cartwheels and whoops]
To be a true Christian, according to Wesley, is also to have a sure trust and confidence, assurance of this everlasting life. We have faith, given to us as a free gift from God, faith that is in the unseen ways of God, faith that allows us to know the peace that has no earthly understanding, faith that allows us to stand up in the face of persecution and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
We can live and be a part of world and practice justice, mercy, truth, some of my relatives are upright citizens living “good” lives but with out the love of God enveloping them, without responding to his love and because of this they are not Christian (yet)
We can be part of ‘church’ and follow the ordinances of God, and do all the right things and have the outside shell of a Christian, but what of our heart?
Love is the greatest gift we can receive from the Spirit, it is one of the fruit of the Spirit and by far outweighs the other gifts and fruit. Everything else follows on from this love. Patience, kindness, gentleness and even self-control.
So if you want a heart check to see are you almost or altogether a Christian ask these and reflect :
Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?
Can you cry out, “My God, and my All”?
Do you desire nothing but him?
Are you happy in God?
Is he your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing?
And is this commandment written in your heart, “That he who loveth God love his brother also”?
Do you then love your neighbour as yourself?
Do you love every man, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul?
as Christ loved you?
Yea, dost thou believe that Christ loved thee, and gave himself for thee?
Hast thou faith in his blood?
Believest thou the Lamb of God hath taken away thy sins, and cast them as a stone into the depth of the sea?
that he hath blotted out the handwriting that was against thee, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross?
Hast thou indeed redemption through his blood, even the remission of thy sins? And doth his Spirit bear witness with thy spirit, that thou art a child of God?
“Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”