SPIRITUAL: What does a Christian look like? (Part II)

Some of us have been talking about being “real” Christians. Recently, I came across this description. What do you think?

Too Busy Not to Pray (p. 125-126)

The Authentic Christian

Authentic Christianity is not learning a set of doctrines and then stepping in cadence with people all marching the same way. It is not simply humanitarian service to the less fortunate. It is a walk—a supernatural walk with a living, dynamic, communicating God. Thus the heart and soul of the Christian life is learning to hear God’s voice and developing the courage to do what he tells us to do.

Authentic Christians are persons who stand apart from others, even other Christians, as though listening to a different drummer. Their character seems deeper, their ideas fresher, their spirit softer, their courage greater, their leadership stronger, their concerns wider, their compassion more genuine, their convictions more concrete. They are joyful in spite of difficult circumstances and show wisdom beyond their years.

Authentic Christians are full of surprises. You think you have them neatly boxed, but they turn out to be unpredictable. When you are around them, you feel slightly off balance because you don’t know what to expect next. Over time, though, you realize that their unexpected ideas and actions can be trusted.

That’s because authentic Christians have strong relationships with the Lord—relationships that are renewed every day. As the psalmist said of godly people, “Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season and their leaves do not wither” (Psalm 1:2-3 NRSV).

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7 comments on “SPIRITUAL: What does a Christian look like? (Part II)
  1. This sounds fine. Of course. And it leads me to this follow-up question. (I ask it with purposeful and rudimentary naivete.)What are the implied claims about what true or “authentic” Christianity does for a mind/soul that Buddhism Sikhism or Zoroastrianism does/will/can-not do?We start to filet the claims of ancillary effect from the theorem, and we throw out the theorem, the pith. We defend a faith by those qualities that are not proprietary to it.So: why choose Christianity if the desired result can be reached through vigorous and enthusiastic selflessness and open-mindedness?

  2. Jeff says:

    Let me start by admitting that I understand maybe 25% of your comment, Michael!Here is one possible partial answer to the last question:23 This is what the LORD says:”Let not the wise man boast of hiswisdom or the strong man boast ofhis strength or the rich man boastof his riches,24 but let him who boasts boastabout this:THAT HE UNDERSTANDS AND KNOWS ME, that I am the LORD, who exerciseskindness, justice and righteousnesson earth, for in these I delight,”declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-25)Emphasis mine. So maybe an enlightened Christian and Buddhist could have similar views on politics, lifestyle and happiness, but supposedly the Christian will also have the honor of knowing God. Big statement. Like I said, I don’t intend for this comment to be the end of the questions or answers, just the next voice. I certainly believe it raises more questions than it answers (if it really answered anything at all).Next?

  3. Jeff says:

    To me “knowing God” and “understanding God” and “walking with God” are what make the first paragraph of the post possible.

  4. Okaaay….But here’s where my question starts to sound like a dismissal of something. Which it isn’t. I’m just trying to dig here.Your post goes quickly to the claim:It is a walk—-a supernatural walk with a living, dynamic, communicating God.Do you agree that this is a matter of faith? Before I think “I can develop a relationship with G-d” I have to think “There is a G-d.” Then I have to think “I believe ‘this’ and ‘that’ about Jeff’s G-d.” And of course it’s perfectly acceptable that I then say “I see G-d differently from how Jeff sees G-d.”So how do I get to the point where I have a reason to believe in Jeff’s G-d? We argue the ‘fruits of faith’ side. That’s where I first wonder which products of faith can only come from a Christian faith.Then we offer the “knowing G-d” argument. That’s where I wonder if we’re saying “You should follow Christ because that’s the only way to be a Christian.”So I guess I ask for either of two arguments.Either 1) “This is why faith in Jeff’s G-d is wise:” And the reasoning has to go beyond “have faith.”or B) “This is what Christianity can do for you that no other faith can:” And the reasoning has to avoid the tautological.

  5. Jeff says:

    I’m not sure what to offer for the next line in the conversation. I’ve contemplated different responses, but I’m having trouble getting to the heart of the issue.Maybe it’s noteworthy that Jesus didn’t spend time (?) talking against other faiths, but just offered his teachings on the kingdom to be taken or rejected as the listeners felt moved.I think there is evidence for the basics of the faith (like The Case for Christ, The Case for Creation, Evidence that Demands a Verdict…), so faith isn’t just blind.But all faiths have some supernatural and historical evidence, so it’s hard to imagine that any religion could be “proved” wrong or irrelevant or maybe even more useful or more right. I have opinions about all that, but proving them or convincing someone of them is a different matter.I’m sure there is some truth (a lot?) in every religion, but I value the mix of ideas/beliefs/truths in Christianity, so it is what I want to spread in the world. Someone else wants to spread their values. This is all very general, so I won’t offer specifics. We just seem to believe (a) what we were taught, and then (b) what we want to believe.I can’t prove my system, only offer some evidence. It’s hard to imagine that I could offer a wise enough argument that would of itself be strong enough to convince people that my worldview is right or the best, but I can offer what works for me and leave the rest for God to sort out.That seems like a weak response, but it’s all I have to offer at this point. Am I even grasping the issue you’re pursuing?What do you think? How about others who are reading this?

  6. “…but I value the mix of ideas/beliefs/truths in Christianity, so it is what I want to spread in the world.”Yes. This is the course I’m pursuing. Evangelism (which I unfortunately use derogatorily here) focuses so much on the basics of faith in an attempt to tell the hearer “so if you don’t agree with me you’re either rebelling against what you now know is true–or you’re missing the obvious truth of what I’ve just told you.” It’s a Socratic style of argument in which the message is intended to trap the audience into agreeing.Such traps are often full of logical fallacies that ask the listener to grant or accept syllogisms. The desired result being that the listener think “Wow. I promised I would believe ‘C’ if ‘A’. Therefore I since I accepted ‘A’ I have to accept ‘C’ too!”Aaand…Conversion!So you say that you value in some of the actual qualities of Christianity. I know it’s a huge system of belief and it’s hard to capture its spirit with a few qualities. But let’s go ahead and assume the faith. For now let’s look at Christianity as something that we believe for whatever reason. Let’s get past the obvious statement that if we believe the New Testatement’s claims we must be Christian.Now let’s talk about its virtues: not those things that we hope it will eventuate but the way it is shaped.Can we take your statement (quoted above) further?I will start by celebrating the general claim that a human being was able to reveal the character of G-d.Then I move to a focus on Seventh-day Adventism as a new and therefore responsive religion that has begun to focus keenly on a character of G-d that is not angry or demanding. (There are several stirring voices in the SDA church that specifically take issue with the view of salvation through a substitutionary death on the cross.) My first claim of the value of Seventh-day Adventist Christianity is the view of a power of good that is not vengeful.

  7. Jeff says:

    Not vengeful. I appreciate that concept, but my mind thinks of both affirming and non-affirming (?) statements from the Bible on this one.Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.I understand that verse to be like a parent telling the kids not to settle the score with each other. Let the wise parent deal with it as he/she sees best. So not vengeful as in angry, but as in wise.The other side…Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. No attitude of vengence there.For me personally, the SDA view of hell shows this more clearly than the substitutionary theory (which makes sense to me in a nonvengeance way, but that’s more than I have time to explain right now. Charissa is almost here… IS here to pick me up.More maybe on Sunday when I’m back in the office.

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