Some time ago I stopped studying Scripture, at least the Gospels, for what they said about Jesus, and started examining how Jesus moved. I became passionate about where he walked, who he met, the nature of each encounter, his encounters with the religious leaders of his day, and how he dealt with the growing throngs of people who constantly wanted to see more, hear more, and eat more fish.
His empathy with people who were suffering, for those who were Roman, Samaritan, leper or lame he was always the same— a kindness with tangible results. With some, he challenged their ways; with others, he barely interacted at all…, but granted their request when he saw their faith. He was a prophet with power moving among real people with personal, physical needs. And he granted them forgiveness for their sins. Interesting.
There are many books written on The Marks of a Christian, or some such topic. In recent days we have had need to distinguish between “Christians” and “genuine Christians.” Give this list of Marks of a Genuine Christian some consideration.
- A genuine heart for God & People. Too many Christians in the West have lost their heart for God. We have replaced compassion for people and focus on Christ with comprehension and knowledge. Knowing Scripture and theology is not inherently wrong; not until it crowds out our love for God and his people. Systematic Theology is no replacement for heart-felt love and action.
- Sacrifices for the empowerment of Others. If you are a genuine Christian you will sacrifice your time, energy, and resources for other people. It is the natural out-working of a believer’s love for his Lord. Sacrifice is no sacrifice at all if it is done in love and compassion.
- Walks the Roads of Scripture. To balance compassion we must comprehend the breadth and depth of God’s Word on a daily basis. Dr. Cornelius VanTil once said we are to think God’s thoughts after Him. To do that we must learn to enter into the context of Scripture and live alongside her characters from Abraham to Jesus to John.
- Walks Among those Who Know Nothing about Genuine Christian Faith. There is no greater way to gain a passion for people than to walk among them, to hear their anger, their rage, and to cry with them in their pain. You want to know what normal people think of Christianity? Spend time with them, drink with them, celebrate with them. Ask them.
- Has a Passion for Prayer. “Prayer” has become a flat, non-content word within Christian circles today. What prayer is, truly, are conversations with the God who created you and seeks your best. He seeks company, even though there are times when we really do not want to talk with him. A genuine Christian will desire deep meetings with God, regular extended times of prayer; then, he will be quiet and wait for that still small voice of God in the whisper of the wind. Unless you are me, of course; the Father uses a 2×4 with me; and that’s just to get my attention.
- Safe, and Speaks Truth Graciously. A genuine Christian is a person of safety. People are drawn to him because they feel safe. He does not judge: that is a matter for God the Father. He knows when to speak, and when to remain silent. He knows that Truth, real Truth can be quite freeing…, or also extremely painful. His calling is to walk graciously in this world to bring the safety and Truth of God to it.
To be sure, there are many more marks of a genuine Christian. And my list is cursory at best. But do give it some consideration. “To what extent are these things true of me?” What marks me as a genuine follower of Christ to the people in my world? How do I move among them?
For what it’s worth,