Coming soon, in just a few weeks, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This coming Easter Sunday we will once again joyfully proclaim the Good News!
We celebrate the Good News because we are Christians. Still, you and I know that in this country, even in our local communities, there are questions raised about just who really has the right to claim to be a Christian. Someone even asked me recently if the word “Christian” was copyrighted. That is, he asked, “Did any one faith group have the term “Christian” as a registered trademark?”
“Well, no,” I answered, “I don’t think so.” “Well, then,” the person continued, who has the right to judge whether a person is “Christian” or not? Who gets to decide?”
Actually, those are good questions. I cannot speak for you, but I believe that people are free to decide for themselves if they are Christian. I do not believe we are in a position to judge their hearts and minds. And, I believe that we who claim to be Christian will someday be held accountable for our Christian behavior as well as how well we shared the Good News of Jesus Christ. We will be judged on how well we represented Christ as we entered into God’s work using our hands in this world.
In the meantime I believe it is fair to ask: “what does it mean to be ‘Christian.’”
What does it mean? Years ago a wise pastor helped me to understand just that. He taught that we become Christians by our baptisms into Christ’s death and resurrection. At the baptismal font we become identified as a Christian. When we are baptized we are marked with the cross of Christ. And from that moment on we belong to God, not by our choice, but by God’s choice. And we become and remain Christian whether or not we are living up to other people’s “Christian standards.” We become and remain Christian simply because God has claimed us as God’s children.
We live out our Christian identities by experiencing and living in and with the world in a faithful way. We proclaim Christ as Lord, we freely share the gifts of God, we care for our neighbor…we love our Lord. We proclaim Jesus as our Lord and savior who redeems us from sin and death.
And as Christians we strive to follow Jesus, to represent Jesus, in all that we say and do. Sometimes, of course, we fail. After all, we are far from a perfect people. Still, we continue to do our best, to repent, to begin again and again and again.
For that it is certainly good that we are not saved by our good deeds. It is certainly Good News that Jesus died on our behalf, was resurrected by God, and stands as our advocate before God, making us worthy and valuable to God…making us Easter people…eternally.
Christ’s Peace, Pastor Steve Leiser