Hi, a quickie today. I’ve always looked at polls stating that the majority of Americans are Christian with a wary eye. I don’t mean to be judgmental but I look at society, our media, our political situation and what is considered by Americans to be acceptable behavior and I can’t help but think that those things would look far different if the polls were true. Instead of asking “Do you consider yourself a Christian?” (which can lead to a number of interpretations) I created a little test that isn’t perfect by any means but would be a better indication of how “Christian” America really is.
Note to new Christians: Don’t take these as a judgment or benchmarks of where you should be. God will guide you as will your Christian mentor (don’t have one? I strongly suggest finding one). And God’s blessings in your walk with Christ!
1) What makes you a Christian?
This is the most important question and the only one that can disqualify a person by itself from being a Christian. There is some possible variation but the response should include believing that Jesus died for our sins and securing a spot in eternity for all who believe by His resurrection (it doesn’t have to be stated in churchy language but the idea should be there).
Saying “because I’m a good person” or “because I go to church” or “because I know who Jesus is” indicates that the person is not a Christian. Sound harsh? Sorry its truth. If I said I was a Muslim because I read a book on Islam, visited a mosque, give to charity and know who Mohammad was I would be laughed at and rightly so. Religions have certain tenants. True Christianity does not have the legalistic requirements of other religions but there are still some things Christians have to believe. If Christianity is defined by each individual then the term is meaningless.
2-6 can be answered with a yes or no.
2) Do you pray at least 1 hour a week?
Two notes: first from here on out answering no to any of these does not disqualify someone from being a Christian (thankfully). Christianity is not based on what we do. Answering no to two or more isn’t a good sign but God is the judge. Second these are bare minimums. These are not the standards for a great Christian life. One hour is less than 9 minutes a day. Christianity is about a relationship with God. If you don’t communicate how can you relate?
3) Do you read one chapter in the Bible every week?
Again, a low standard. The Bible is how we learn about who God is and what He says. If we don’t read it how can we learn about Him?
4) Have you been to church 15 times or more this year?
Again such a low standard. Ideally Christians should be an active part of a local church. Sometimes work gets in the way, other times its hard to find a church (that excuse doesn’t fly in the Dade City / Zephyrhills / Brooksville area). But at a minimum Christians should be trying to go to church. 15 times a year is less than once every three weeks. So if someone is going the weeks they are off work or searching for a church then 15 times a year is evidence of an effort.
5) Can you name 3 things you did this week that benefited someone else?
Whether it was giving money, participating in a work project or counseling / witnessing to someone Christians are called to do good works. We do not become Christians because we do good, we do good because we are Christians. Very important. 2-4 doesn’t mean much if 5 isn’t in order. I need to work on this one.
6) Do I have major issues following more than 2 of the 10 commandments?
We all have issues we struggle with but if we are having trouble keeping 3 or more commandments its time to strengthen our faith. Note we’ll use Jesus’ definition of adultery (looking at someone with lust). Christians will exhibit life change.
Obviously this was an arbitrary test, especially the levels. Understand these were meant as poll questions. Please note that I have trouble with even these low expectations. Other than #1 nothing here is a questioning of someone’s salvation. The baseline of what we must believe is clear (addressed in question 1). For the others its God’s job to judge. My point is that there are people who claim to be Christians that can’t answer any of these correctly.
Another potential criticism is that I have a narrow view of Christianity. Perhaps, certainly others have a right to use the word in a different way. But when it is asked “Are you a Christian?” there needs to be a definition of what a Christian is. Otherwise the question is meaningless. Which is my point. That people are somewhat familiar with Christian tradition here in America and have some nominal involvement with Christian practices and traditions does not make the majority of us Christians. In addition “Are you a Christian?” does not quantify how serious you are about it. Asking “Are you serious about it?” leads to the same uncertainty. How do you define serious? That is what these questions attempt to do. They are not an attempt to judge (as I too wouldn’t be shining like a star).
Next time: the cell phone search. Good stuff. Have a great day.