What is a Christian?

What is a Christian?

For Jesus, being a “Christian” isn’t a blob of jelly that can be squished into any shape we want. It’s not a personalised experience, in which you tell “your truth” and create a customised “Jesus”. It’s believing the truth about the real Jesus of history, being changed by him, and belonging to his people. 

It may surprise you to know that the word “Christian” appears in the Bible just three times. The name itself was first coined in Antioch in south east Turkey, years after Jesus had returned to heaven. You can read about it in Acts 11:26. Up until then, Christians went by the name of “disciples”, “believers”, “brothers”, “saints” (which means holy ones), and “followers of the Way”. But a new word was needed to describe this weird new social group, made up of both Jews and non-Jews who followed Jesus. So, the name “Christian” was invented. And it’s stuck!

Today, billions of people claim the label for themselves. Locally, in the recent 2021 census, 36.9% of borough residents ticked the “Christian” box on the form. But, what is a Christian? Is it just an identity label that we get to claim for ourselves? Who gets to decide?

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