What Is a Christian? | Colossians 1:21-23


The biggest thing missing from someone who is not a Christian is not that they need more religious stuff going on in their lives or they need to be nicer – it’s that they need their relationship with God to be made right.

It’s really, really great to be Christians together. And we want to invite as many people as we possibly can to be Christians with us – but in order to do that, we have to understand what Christians are. How would you answer the question “What are Christians?”

Let’s not assume that we understand what Christians are and invite people into Christianity with us, accidentally reproducing something else by mistake. We could accidentally invite people to be really religious with us and do religious stuff, but that’s not the same as being a Christian. We could accidentally invite people to try to be nicer than they were, but being nice isn’t exactly the same thing as being a Christian.

“What is a Christian?” There are different ways to answer that question – in Colossians 1:21-23, we see one way.

What Christians Are Not

The first thing we see in these three verses is what Christians are not. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand what something is by first understanding what it isn’t.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds …
– v. 21

Those who are not Christians are alienated or separated from God and suffer a broken relationship with Him. It’s painful physically when something is separated that’s supposed to be together, it’s painful relationally when something is separated that’s supposed to be together, and it’s infinitely more painful when it’s our relationship with God. You were designed for a close relationship with God. You simply were not built and designed and created to live life apart from Him. But that’s the human condition apart from Jesus Christ.

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The biggest thing missing from someone who is not a Christian is not that they need more religious stuff going on in their lives or they need to be nicer – it’s that they need their relationship with God to be made right.

What Christians Are

… he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him …
– v. 22

So what are Christians? Christians are those who have been reunited with God in a healed relationship because of Jesus Christ. You’ve probably had a broken relationship with someone you wanted to be close with, and have probably experienced a healing if you were able to forgive each other. What a great feeling that is. But that’s just a shadow of the feeling of becoming a Christian and having your relationship with God made right again.

It can only happen through Jesus Christ – that’s why we are called Christians. Jesus Christ, lived as a human being and died on the cross to pay for our sins. He was buried, and everybody saw it, and He rose from the dead, and everyone saw it, proving everything He taught.

If …

Christians are those who have been brought back into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ – but we’re always tempted to walk away from it. There are always forces in this world that would pull us away from that closeness with God. We might be tempted to trust in something else to be close to God or we might be tempted to feel like we don’t need to be close to God, like we can do it on our own and don’t need Him at all.

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True Christians won’t leave Christ. If someone is able to walk away from a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ, it proves that they never really had it. “[I]f indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” (v. 23) then these things are true of you. It’s not “I went forward at a Billy Graham crusade 40 years ago, therefore I’m a Christian,” it’s “Right now I continue in the faith.”

If you’re not a Christian, you’re invited to receive what Jesus has done for you. It’s possible to go to church a long time without having ever received this and never been brought back into a right relationship with God.

If you are a Christian, be reminded of what you have. Sometimes we live as if we’re still a scared, runaway child on our own, but that’s not true. We have our loving Father now and are in a right relationship with Him thanks to Jesus. And if you are a Christian, think about who is in your life right now that maybe you could invite to join us – someone who might be ready to receive the good news of Jesus Christ.

 

Discussion Starters

  1. How would you answer if someone asked, “What is a Christian?”
  2. What are some misconceptions about what Christianity is?
  3. According to verse 21, what is our condition prior to Christ?
  4. Do any other Scriptures come to mind that talk about the “human condition”?
  5. What are the results of being separated from God?
  6. How can our broken relationship with God be fixed?
  7. What are the results of having a healed relationship with God through Christ?
  8. What does verse 23 mean?
  9. Is there anyone in your life who might be ready to become a Christian?
  10. What steps can you take to help that person receive the gospel?
   
 

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