Every once in awhile I like to do “anonymous question” night in our small group. I hand out a bunch of index cards and tell students they can ask any question about anything they are wondering about God. It can be something they have been too “afraid” to put out there or maybe a pondering they are just too embarrassed to shout out in front of friends. We compile the questions, shuffle them up and then the leaders take a stab at answering them. Inevitably there are a number of, “Am I still a Christian if I do, have or want to…” type of questions.
It made me realize before I can answer any of these questions I needed to ask one simple question first:
What is a Christian and how do you know if you are one? (OK, 2 questions.)
You are thinking,
They know that, many of these students have grown up in this church they know this answer.
Actually I think you will be surprised at the answers you receive. I often hear,
If you are a good person.
If you follow the commandments.
If you believe in God.
In the mix someone inevitable says:
You believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins and then rose again on the third day.
You asked Jesus into your heart.
Then I ask:
What does that mean for you? How does that change things in your life?
My favorite passage to go over all of this with students is Romans 10: 9-11
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Before I can answer any “Am I still a Christian if?” We need to understand it’s not about what we DO it’s WHO we belong to. I like to explain it like this:
When you are a toddler you know you “belong” to your parents. You trust they love and want to take care of you. It’s expected they will meet your needs and ensure you are safe. You are theirs and this makes so much sense you barely think about it. The love you feel makes you want to follow them around and be like them. You may not get every action “right” but out of love for them you want to be close to them and learn how to be just like them. This is what it means to confess with your “mouth” and “believe” in your heart.
Yes, we need to understand the weight of our sin and the power of the cross and resurrection. Yet, It is the choice to know we now are no longer slaves to sin, but are part of Christ’s family and accept that position fully.
Then I go on and say,
Based on what we just talked about are you still a Christian if you do things that are wrong?
I follow it by saying:
Our relationship with Christ is not contingent on anything we do or don’t do. It’s about us accepting who He is fully, what that means and making the choice to be His. This is a Christian.
However, you can get “stuck” in your relationship with Him. We can know we are His and make the choice to still not live like it.
Now the question is why are you asking your question? Is it a genuine mistake or a choice? Are you really just trying to see “what you can get away with?”
There is a difference between guilt and repentance. Some of us just want to really do whatever we want to do. If you belong to someone, you are their representative. So when someone says, “That’s God’s kid over there.” What are they saying about you?
I love the anonymous questions, they always help me see where my students are at and to know their struggles. The cry of my heart of course is they simply would know one day that when you know who you belong to, you are afforded all the questions.
How do you answer the “Am I A Christian If?” questions?