What if “Christian” Actually Meant: Looks Like Christ

Last week I finished reading a book called The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church, by Greg Boyd. 

The book itself is an example of someone taking an idea that could have been adequately covered in about 50 pages and stretching it to 200 to make it long enough to be considered a book. That said, the idea presented in the book is profound.

The main idea is this: in order for something to be called “Christian,” it should look like Christ. Christ lived a life of love, caring for and healing the outcast, the poor, the sinners, and then he died on the cross for our sake—died even for those who were his enemies. America, often thought of as a Christian nation, has historically never looked like this. In fact, it isn’t possible for any nation to fit this definition of Christian. The Church, however, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can and should look like Christ in this way—sacrificially loving people with the love of Jesus. That is truly our sole calling as Christians.

The book questions our religious justification for the use of violence to protect our nation. It questions the notion of America being a “city on a hill,” a moral example to the rest of the world. It doesn’t suggest that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics, but it does question whether we can label any particular political party, ideology or decision as the “Christian” one. I have a lot to say about this book, and I would love to discuss it with anyone who is interested in reading it (we’ve asked Mark’s parents to read it and discuss it with us, which I think they’ve agreed to do).

For now I want to share that this book really has me thinking about my own personal walk as a Christian. It’s clear from Scripture that sacrificial love should be the distinguishing characteristic of a Christian. So I’ve been asking myself—is that the distinguishing characteristic in my life?

Starting with my family—do I love them, even when it causes me inconvenience or pain? Beyond my family—what does it look like to truly love my friends? My neighbors? My city? My country? It’s so easy to put my personal comfort, safety, well-being first. Perhaps it’s true anywhere in the world, but it seems especially so in a country that believes the “pursuit of happiness” is one of our inalienable rights.

This week, I’m going to keep asking myself  how I can look more like Christ as I relate to my husband, son, friends, neighbors and anyone else I run into. I’ll be asking God to show me opportunities to love sacrificially.

I’m honestly a little scared, because it will certainly mean some amount of inconvenience or pain. But I’ll keep in mind Hebrews 12:1-3: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”


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