How would you describe what being a Christian means to someone else? What is distinctive about being a Christian? Todd Hunter, in Christianity Beyond Belief, uses four phrases to describe what being a Christian means to him.
First, a Christian is a cooperative friend of Jesus. It means that you see the story of your life within the story of God – within his intention for humanity. As soon as you attempt that, you will see your sin; you will see where and how you have chosen your own path, written your own story. When sin becomes clear, so will the life, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, and the eternal life in the kingdom it brings. Through faith, trust and confidence in Christ you will find both forgiveness and the gift of reorienting your life. This is known as repentance. It’s a lifestyle in which we enter a new life in the kingdom of God – with heaven to come.
Second, a Christian seeks to live a consistent life of creative goodness. God is up to something; he is healing and restoring his creation. His chosen agents for this creative activity are those who want in on this divine conspiracy to overcome evil with good.
Third, a Christian lives for the sake of others. In God’s name, and according to his plan, loving and serving others is the very heart of Christian life. Other people are the endgame. Because of God’s plan for them in the renewed cosmos, others are where the real action is. See John 15:12-15. Through focusing on others I find God, his forgiveness and what he is up to – and I find my truest, most human-in-the-image-of-God self.
Fourth, a Christian lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the Continuator. He is the continuing presence of Jesus – as Jesus promised: John 14-16. Experientially knowing that Jesus is still present with us, in us and in the world through the person and work of the Holy Spirit animates and empowers me to seek a life of creative goodness for the sake of others.