If the 2 billion plus people who are classified as Christians were true Christians we would have a totally different world. We would have lesser number of very poor people, much lesser number of crimes, and an increasing number of people who make other people happy.
Unfortunately and very sadly too, most of the 2 billion or more who say they are Christians are false Christians. They are not true as they do not show the signs of a real Christian.
We have fake money bills, fake documents, fake transcripts of records, fake certificates, fake signatures. But the worst and most dangerous counterfeit is not money or document but a fake Christian. The reason is because a fake Christian can create havoc not just in the banks or in employment but in all the sectors of society.
It was fake Christians who have been waging wars all through these centuries, including the two world wars, putting to death millions of human beings.
To recognize who these fake Christians are we need to know the signs of a true Christian. There are three main signs.
First, the true Christian is one who is no longer seeking for something in this world to save himself or make himself happy. If you have been to an Easter Party with an Easter egg, you would know what I mean.
In an Easter Party where the people search for the Easter egg you see children and adults walking around, searching for the coveted Easter egg, a colored egg hidden in furniture, in grass, in other places around the venue of the party. They keep on looking for this Easter egg until it is found. Most of the time there are many of such egg and people look for more and more of them, until the moderator of the game tells the partying people that the total number of Easter eggs have been found.
That is what most people do. They are looking for something that can make them happy. Some people think that this is found in money and more money, and so they acquire more of this. Others think that this is found in having three good meals a day, a sturdy roof over their head, and a set of comfortable clothes. So they work for these from day to day. Still others think that they can find happiness in honor. So they search for ways and means to become celebrities, whether at school, in the movie industry or in politics or in other areas.
The true Christian has found genuine happiness and knows where she has found this, in an encounter with God in Christ. This encounter happens when she has heard personally the word of God spoken to her and she has responded accordingly. Without this personal experience of God addressing oneself there is no real Christian.
In the case of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, he had this personal encounter when he heard God personally speaking to him through a preacher, “Look unto me…” from Isaiah 45:22.
In the case of Therese Martin, she heard the personal word of God when she read Proverbs 9:4, “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.”
This personal experience with the word of God is not something reserved to the saints or great Christians. This is the necessary experience of every true Christian. This makes the person discover where true happiness lies, in Christ and in him alone.
Because of this experience, the true Christian stops looking for something to truly satisfy her thirst for happiness. She has found it and it shows in her life. She does not come and go here and there searching for something to make her happy. She has found happiness and it shows in her demeanor.
The second main sign of a true Christian is that she is learning about the Christ. And this shows in her thoughts and in her words.
A simple but very correct definition of a Christian is that she is a learner of the Christ, because the basic meaning of “disciple” in Greek is “learner”. If a Christian is a disciple of Christ, then she is a learner. She learns something of the Christ every day.
To do this she has a book or a string of beads to meditate on the life and works of the Christ. And she does this not because she has been told to do so by a teacher in religion or Bible study group. She does this because she loves Christ and she wants to know more about him. This is done on a daily basis, not once in a while.
This second sign of a true Christian disqualifies almost all those who even go to church daily or once a week to be called real Christians. This is because they are content with going to church daily or once a week and never advance in their personal knowledge of the Christ.
The third sign of a true Christian is something that Jesus himself said was the true sign of his followers. And this sign is something that cannot be faked. It is so simple and yet it cannot be produced by mere human effort. It is produced by God in us and through us. Unless this sign is clear in our lives we cannot say that we are real Christians.
This third sign is love.
But is it not just a wishy-washy kind of love. It is love that endures through death and even beyond death. It is not a fine feeling for the person next to you whom you happen to like.
Beyond love of God and love of neighbor, this is love of other true Christians. The true Christian senses a deep affinity with other true Christians, an affinity stronger than family ties. And she loves the other true Christians not with her human love but with the love of Christ himself.
Now, how is this love of Christ himself for the other true Christians shown so that other people can see it? It is shown by caring unto the uttermost, just as Jesus cared for that person to the uttermost.
These are the three main signs of a true Christian: 1) The true Christian no longer is looking for something to make her happy; she has found what makes her totally happy through a personal encounter with the word of God. 2) The true Christian learns about the Christ daily. She discovers something new about the Christ everyday. And she keeps on learning about the Christ. 3) The true Christian has a genuine love for the other true Christians, a love that comes from Jesus himself, shown by caring for the other Christians to the uttermost. It is not baptism nor any other sacrament, nor doing good deeds to our fellow men, nor going to church and performing religious or church activities that tell others we are true Christians. It is sense of total happiness radiating around us, a continuous desire to learn more of the Christ, and genuine Christ’s love for the other true Christian that tell others we are true Christians.
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