Christian: Label or Lifestyle?

I’ve often wondered what Christianity looks like from the “outside.” Can unbelievers pick out the Christians in a crowd? Or do they think we’re just a bunch of fakes who slap on a label to ease our own consciences? More importantly, do people know that I’m a Christian? Can they tell by the way that I live my life that there is something different about me, or would they only know if I told them?

I recently came across the story of a young man who attended a Christian college. In order to make money to pay his school bill, he accepted a job at a logging camp in a rural town over the summer. His friends at school were concerned when they heard his decision.

“It’s a rough bunch of guys that work in those camps,” they told him, “and they won’t go easy on you when they hear you’re a Christian!” 

He would not be deterred, so his friends eagerly awaited his return in the fall, ready to hear of all the difficulties he had encountered. However, when he arrived, he was as jolly and well as ever. Surprised, his friends asked him, 

“How did you manage to keep out of trouble when they found out you were a Christian?” 

“Oh, that was easy,” he responded. “They never found out!” 

Most of us probably read this story and groan. How can a man call himself a Christian and yet live with people for months without them catching on? Never mind the fact that he never told them — did they not know from the fruit in his life? Or was there any fruit? Did he live just like every other man in that camp?

How can a man call himself a Christian and yet live with people for months without them catching on?

Unfortunately, this is the sad reality for multitudes who take the name of Christ. To many, Christianity is no more than weekly church attendance and mealtime prayers. But there has to be more to it. There has to be something deeper that sets followers of Christ apart from the rest of humanity. That something, Someone, is Christ. Without Christ living in our hearts and transforming our lives, we are no different than anyone else, no matter what we profess. 

In one of my favorite daily devotional books, the author writes, “It is [our] duty to be Christians in the highest sense of the word — ‘Christlike.’” And later in the same chapter she adds, “Kindness and love and courtesy are the marks of the Christian…” (My Life Today, p. 178). If I want people to know that I am a Christian, I must let it show through my life. I must allow Christ to speak through me in kind words, live through me in thoughtful actions, and work through me in selfless love for others. 

If I want people to know that I am a Christian, I must let it show through my life.

To be a true Christian is not easy. It requires letting go of selfish desires and giving others the benefit of the doubt. It means holding the tongue and responding to unkindness with love. It goes against every grain of human nature. And yet, when we submit to allow Christ into our lives to transform our characters, it all becomes a reality. Little by little, these seemingly unthinkable changes become natural to us and we become like Christ in every way. As this transformation is wrought out in our lives, others will begin to notice the change. They will see that we are different, and they will want to know what drives our actions. Soon, we will be living witnesses for Christ. It is then, and only then, that we will truly be able to take the name of Christ and share it with a sin-sick world.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NKJV


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