It was in Antioch that the disciples were first given the name of “Christians”. (JBP)
Those in church communities and even those outside them often use the word “Christian”. We assume we know what we mean by it, but the meaning we attach can differ according to who is using the label.
Some see it as describing anyone who is not Muslim or Buddhist, someone who ticks a box on a census form. Others see it describing those who do good and charitable works. Yet others link it to holding to certain beliefs.
Jesus says that not everyone who makes a correct verbal statement qualifies as a disciple: saying “Lord, Lord” is not enough: doing his will is needed. Then again, the Bible reminds us that our own goodness is not enough to get us right with God and so we need to embrace his gracious mercy. Just being jolly decent, or just giving assent to certain beliefs does not make a person a Christian.
Not even being part of a church community or Christian small group gets us there. Christianity is not caught like the common cold. It does not just rub off on us. We have to embrace it for ourselves.
So we need to be careful about concluding someone is or is not a Christian. Is that great speaker or charismatic leader a Christian or a pretender? Is that struggling addict a lost sheep or a weak lamb borne along on Jesus’ shoulders? Fortunately for us, only God knows.