Self-Identifying Christian

We live in a culture of self-determination. You determine your career and educational trajectories. You pick where you’ll live. You pick who you’ll be. This has even extended to what gender you claim for some. Throughout history, most people had very little freedom of self-determination, you were what your family, community, country, or faith system needed you to be. Your place was influenced more by outside forces than internal forces. Today, we have the ability to buck the external forces and self-determine our place in the world.

Working with teens sometimes leads to odd epiphanies at odd times. Last night I was hanging out with my students before our Bible studies when something occurred to me. I would say that my mind drew a parallel that I had not previously noted. We have moved self-determination into the realm of faith.

Who we are in the church, what we do for the church, how we approach faith and church-life is largely determined by ourselves. This attitude is reflected in songs like, “My Church.” But, I fear that this approach is flawed. The reason I believe that this approach of self-determination is flawed is that it ignores the centralĀ tenant of being a Christian. If we accept that God is the creator and that as Jesus Christ he is the redeemer, then as Christians we have to recognize that who we are and what we do as Christians should not be self-determined but rather determined by our creator and redeemer.

We, as a Christian culture, have accepted that it is okay to self-determine our church life and Christian walk. I believe in freedom of conscience, but within the framework that God gives us in scripture. The most basic skeleton of which is the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40), the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and the Great Commitment (Acts 2:42). Love God and others (Great Commandment), go and make disciples (Great Commission), and do not neglect church fellowship (Great Commitment).

God gives us a lot of freedom as we follow him, but he does place constraints on the Christian life and you cannot follow him outside of those constraints. Self-determining that I am going to be a Stay-at-Home-Christian ignores the Great Commitment, it ignores the gathering together of Christians for the work of the church. Self-determining that I am going to be a church attender and nothing more, ignores the Great Commission, the command that Jesus gives all Christians to go and make disciples. Being a gossip or a negative force is self-determining that you are going to ignore the great commandment.

You have freedom, but don’t forget that God has standards to which he calls us all. You have a creator, a God who loved you so much that not only did he create you, but he sent his son to die for you. Who you are as a Christian is determined by your creator and redeemer far more than by your own desires and whims.

Published by John-David Culbertson

I am the Associate Pastor for Students at FBC Monahans. I am a graduate of Dallas Baptist University (BA in Biblical Studies) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Advanced Masters of Divinity). I am currently enrolled as a student at Dallas Baptist University working on a Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Arts in Leadership. I love Christ and I am passionate about the church. It is my goal to server the Jesus Christ in whatever capacity He would place me and wherever He would send me.

One thought on “Self-Identifying Christian

  1. LOVED this! We have ro realize that we are not on control and in a world of “you control you”, “you create rhe life you desire”, and “dont let anyone tell you who you can and cant be”, we have to live with a constant reminder that we must hand over control to God and His plan for us. This is difficult to do as control freaks and impatient beings. We have to realize rhar we cannot choose to be Christians amd followers of Christ when it is convenient or when we need to make up some time; or remember that there might be a reason for the way things are going in our lives and call on Him when we need Him. We stand in His light full time and we cant just pull out the Christianity card when we find it convenient. When we are Christians full time, God uses us to deliver when others need it. And some really spectacular things happen in our lives when we “choose” to hand it ALL over and release our control over everything and allow Him to do His work!


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