Confessions of a noun-Christian
To the English teachers reading this, I know--the former is most often used as a noun, while the latter is an adjective. But think about this for a moment—wouldn’t the term “Christian” be more meaningful when used as an adjective, rather than a noun? Shouldn’t a Christian be able to be described and identified primarily by his Christlike behavior? Isn’t that what the whole “salt, light, and a city set on a hill” passage is all about? What’s the point of “classifying” someone as a Christian who does not act “Christian?”
Before Christians were first called such in Antioch, they did exist in the eyes of God and men without that appellation. These people were described simply as disciples, or followers of the Lord. A Christ-follower, or disciple of Jesus, ought to be one and the same as a Christian. In fact, it would be a misuse of the term “Christian” to apply it to someone who did not at least attempt to pattern his life from top to bottom—including thoughts, words, and actions—after the Master.
So it turns out that “Christlike” is the forgotten synonym for “Christian,” and where we find a Christian in name (used as a noun), we ought to find a Christlike person in deed where “Christian” can be used as an adjective to describe him. This means a person called a Christian should not engage in unchristian activities. Gossip, slander, and backbiting should be put away from our lips. Every word spoken should be done with the motivation to encourage someone in Christ or bring them to Him.
We can probably all attest to the fact that this is not always the case. As C.S. Lewis so brilliantly pointed out, humans almost instinctively know right from wrong, and still as instinctively, usually choose the latter.
Rather than write in the safety of the third person, I’ll take a big dose of this medicine by asking myself how many years I’ve been a noun-Christian without necessarily being an adjective-Christian? Have I always made a concerted effort to emulate Christ’s character traits such as love, compassion, forgiveness, and patience? It’s my life’s regret that I can’t answer in the affirmative. But I can say that I want it to be the primary focus of my life, now--to pattern my life after the One with whom we have to do.
I will no doubt fail at it miserably on a daily basis. But I want to become more like the master, not just sing the old song every once in awhile. I want the word “Christian” to mean more than just the fact that I’ve obeyed a few rudimentary things. I don’t want to use it so much as a noun, but as an adjective. Sure, I’m a Christian. But I hope to be more than that and actually be Christian.
Subscribe to site updates here.