What is a Christian?

A Christian is someone who believes that the answer to all the brokenness, pain, and evil in this world is the death of a man named Jesus two thousand years ago.

How could the death of one man be the answer to terrorism, abuse, betrayal, cancer, or crime?

The answer is that this man Jesus was not like any other man who has ever lived or ever will live. This man was actually the One who made this world.

Despite the horror, despite the pain, despite the senseless evil that has filled this world, this world is still filled with unexplainable, astounding glory and beauty. From sunsets to galaxies, from laughter to love, from music to dance to ice cream — this world is gut-wrenchingly good.

Christians believe that God made this world and loaded it with glory. He invented this place. He imagined this place. And He filled it with treasures and wonders and pleasure and beauty. But men and women have not listened to His voice. We wanted to go our own way. We wanted to be our own bosses, our own gods. Instead of listening to the words of the Inventor of the universe, we decided to listen to other words, to make up our own words.

This rejection of the Good God who made this good world is called sin. And since God invented life, and His word is what gives life to all things, to turn away from His word, to turn away from His life, is ultimately to embrace death. The wages of sin is death. Sin is asking for death. Therefore sin deserves death. Of course people don’t think that they are begging for death when they sin, when they disobey the voice of God, but still we sin and still death comes again and again and again. It fractures, it divides, it separates. It leaves us alone.

So this is the problem: sin fills our lives. We do not love and worship and obey the One who made us. He made us to walk with Him, to know Him, to enjoy His world  with Him. He made strawberries, and He wants us to enjoy them with Him. He made horses, and He wants us to enjoy them with Him. He made people, and He wants us to love them like He does. But we have rejected God’s ways. We grabbed His gifts and didn’t say thank you to Him. We live our lives as though we don’t need Him. Or we only pray to Him when we are sad, hurt, lonely. But God wants to walk with us all the time.

So sin fills our lives, and even people who try hard to be good still find themselves doing evil. People who try to be good, still tell lies. People who try to be good, still look at women as objects and use them to serve their lusts. People who try to be good, can be led astray into believing that certain acts of terrorism, abuse, and oppression are actually good deeds!

In other words, we are sinners and we can’t stop sinning. We are sinners, and therefore we are asking for death. We are inviting death into our lives, into this world. Even when we say we’re trying to be good, we don’t even really know what that means.

But this explains why the death of Jesus is the solution. We need someone to take away our sins forever. We need someone to swallow up all the death forever. But no normal person can die in such a way as to do that. People die, and they don’t come back. People die, and they stay dead. People die, and sin keeps going. Death keeps winning.

But God in His mercy came down to us. He was born a normal man, and He lived a perfect, sinless life. He never lied. He never lusted. He never stole. He never cheated. He never spoke an evil word. But because sin is the rejection of God, sinful men hated Jesus. Sinful men hated Jesus, and they killed Him. They lied about Him. They said He was a wicked man. They said He was a false teacher, a revolutionary. So they had a court trial and condemned Him to death. And in those days, the worst form of execution was being nailed to a cross of wood and hung up to suffer, bleed, and suffocate to death.

But even though these wicked men only meant to get Jesus out of their way, God meant to take away our sins. So when Jesus died, even though He was actually innocent, He died condemned. Even though He was the good, the glorious God who made this world, He died in shame and pain and loneliness.

Why did Jesus die like this? In order to bear our sin, our guilt, our pain, our shame, our separation, all of our brokenness and failures.

It may seem like a silly idea that the death of a man two thousand years ago would have anything to do with us today. But the reason why it matters for us today is because Jesus didn’t stay dead. He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and the third day He rose again from the dead. He wasn’t just resuscitated. He walked out of His tomb with indestructible life, eternal life, forever life. After many people had seen Jesus alive again, eating food with a real, physical body, He ascended to heaven as the King of this World.

But before He left, He gave instructions that this story should be announced and proclaimed. Jesus said that since He has now broken the power of sin and death by His death and resurrection, this whole world is being made new again. All that is evil and broken and wrong is becoming untrue. And all who trust in Jesus, all who look to His cross as the solution for their sin and all evil — they are changed forever. God forgives their sins completely, and He gives them a new heart, a new life by coming to live inside of them by His Spirit. And while no Christian is perfect like Jesus yet, remarkably, His life still begins to emerge in them.

In this way, a Christian is someone who has been made new by faith in Jesus, and now has the Spirit of Jesus inside him or her, making them want to love God, listen to His voice, and live in this world with thankfulness and joy, walking with Him.

Of course there is still much brokenness, much sin, and people are still suffering and dying. But every Christian is proof that Jesus really did come back from the dead and that He really is in heaven as the true King of this world. Jesus will reign in heaven until all of our enemies, all the hurt, all of the pain, all of the darkness has fled away. And the last enemy to be destroyed will be death itself, and then death will be dead forever.

Jesus died that death might die, and Jesus rose from the dead so that all who trust in Him might live. And when we begin to live again with Jesus, the whole world becomes that much better: oceans and elephants, symphonies and wine, love and laughter, families and friends. Everything is ours. And even though our bodies grow old and die, the life that we live is now in Jesus. And just like He couldn’t stay dead. So now, neither can we.

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