Imagine for a second that you've just seen me walk into a concert hall, jump up on stage and, in front of a massive audience, you hear me say, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have been trained to be a concert pianist by the world famous Mitsuko Uchida! Please enjoy the show!" The people in the audience, who've paid good money to see a professional pianist play, begin to clap and actually believe what I say. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I don't know jack squat about playing a piano; in fact, I don't even know Mitsuko Uchida!
Well, it seems I've gotten myself into a tight situation. I've just told a huge lie and now, because of my pride, I'm going to have to fake it in front of this massive audience.
I sit down and begin to play "Marry Had A Little Lamb" (the only song I really know). Out of nowhere the crowd erupts into laughter as if I'm sarcastically toying with them. However, after ten minutes of playing this childish tune, the crowd begins to wonder if I'm really who I say I am, and I begin to turn red. Instead of coming clean and telling the audience the truth, it seems I have not only made myself look bad, but Mitsuko Uchida is most likely not impressed that I associated my ability with her fame in order to increase my own!
The sad thing is there are a lot of people out there who "claim" to be Christians, yet people who look at these "Christian's" lifestyles aren't able to see the change of heart that should be evident when someone accepts, and begins to grow in, Jesus Christ. When the time comes for them to "perform", a discerning eye reveals that they can't stand up to the expectations that their false facade creates! This is because they don't truly have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
Just like me claiming to be a concert pianist would make myself and Mitsuko Uchida look bad, I believe that those who claim themselves to be Christians, even though they consider "Christian" only as a title and not a lifestyle, mock God! If our purpose as a Christian is to spread God's love and His message of redemption, how can "Christians" like these truly promote Christianity when everything that they say or do does not reflect the life change that He provides to those who accept Him? I believe the truth is they can't! It's like the blind leading the blind! Our walk with Jesus Christ should reflect Christ-like action! We should not only claim to be Christians, we should be Christ-FOLLOWERS! We need to make a conscious effort to display the change that Jesus has produced through our personal relationship with Him!
I'm not claiming to be perfect, I'm far from it, but there is a big difference in claiming to be a Christian and modeling your life after Jesus Christ! There are times when I see people who project themselves as Christians but their actions and lifestyle indicate otherwise!
For instance, there have been times when I've come across a blog or personal website of someone who claims to be a Christian, but their site is filled to the brim with cuss words! And there are plenty of times when I've seen girls that claim to be Christians, but the clothes they wear show way too much skin! Or, maybe you've run across people who feel like it is okay to tell jokes that are hurtful to others, even though they know that we need to build each other up instead of tearing each other down (Ephesians 4:29-31)! And what about making fun of others, or gossiping? The Bible says that is like helping a wicked man by being a bad witness (Exodus 23:1)! Even a true Christ follower can get caught up in some of the actions above; we are all sinners! So how are we able to recognize other Christian's?
The Bible says that instead of merely saying we are Christians, we need to die to our old self and offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" to God (Romans 12:1-2)! The Bible also tells us that when we belong to Christ, and we become a slave to Him rather than a slave to sin, the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, indwells in us to assist us in our decisions, in our modeling, and in discerning the will of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we grow in our faith, by reading the Bible, attending a Biblical church, and associating with other true Christ followers, we will produce fruit and we will also become "Fruit Inspectors".
The Bible says a Christ follower will bear much "fruit". So how can you tell a Christian from one only claiming to be a Christian? You've guessed it! The Fruits of the Spirit will be evident in their lives (Galatians 5:22-25)! As you become better at bearing fruit for Christ, you'll also become better at inspecting for fruit in others!
The Bible warns us that those who only claim to be Christians, yet produce no fruit, are like trees who also produce no fruit; they will be chopped down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10)!
It seems like each day there are more and more people who claim to be Christians, but they put more emphasis on belonging to this world rather than belonging to God (Philippians 3:18-19)! Do you claim to be a Christian but your lifestyle doesn't show it? Do you consider "Christian" a title and not a lifestyle change? Do you claim to strive to model your life after Jesus Christ's, yet you show no effort? If so, you aren't living the life that God calls His children to live!
Say goodbye to your old ways. For those who constantly fall back into their old lifestyle are not fit for the service of the Lord (Luke 9: 62). Add action to your walk with Christ; become a Christ-FOLLOWER instead of being what this world's definition of a "Christian" is. Give up your life as a living sacrifice to God, hold onto what is good, and keep away from evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, James 4:7-10). Devote your life to Jesus and you will find that He will bless you more than you can imagine.