I have never followed a presidential race in the USA as closely as I’m following this one. In fact, I’ve not been very much interested at all in politics till this race. I do vote, however, as I believe it is a privilege to be able to do so in our country.
What I want to address here is the bickering among some candidates about who is and who is not a “Christian.” One says he’s a Christian, the other says well, he “can’t” be a Christian because look what he does (or did).
I doubt many of the presidential candidates are well versed in Christian theology. In fact, I would imagine most really don’t even know the Bible all that well. But what they certainly do not convey to the public is the theological truth that what “makes” one a Christian is not what he DOES, but what he BELIEVES.
You see, every religion in the world focuses on what YOU have to do: Give alms, fast, go to church or synagogue or mosque, pray (sometimes in a certain direction), obey commandments, and so on and on. Or, what YOU should NOT do: Drink, cuss, smoke, dance, wear makeup, like Americans, and on and on.
True Christianity is this: Faith in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, which means your rebellion against God. The true Christian BELIEVES in the Lord Jesus Christ, and is saved. That makes him or her a Christian, not what one does or does not do. What one does or does not do is then a sign of whether one has truly come to Christ for salvation, because at that time we receive the Holy Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit begins to cleanse us, to transform our behavior, our desires, our focus and goals.
Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.” In other words, if they truly belong to me (Jesus), then you WILL see good works, changed attitudes, etc., AFTER the person has believed and trusted Christ for salvation.
We are all imperfect, and our imperfections follow us even after we are saved. So yes, sometimes we’re going to do things that make us appear like we’re not really “Christians.” But that word “appear” is the problem. You see, as the Bible says, “MAN looks at the OUTWARD appearance. GOD looks at the HEART.” That is how David, an adulterer and by proxy a murderer, could still be called a “man after God’s own heart.” David belonged to God through faith. David did wrong. God convicted David of having done wrong. David repented sincerely. God forgave David and restored their good relationship. But God NEVER gave up David. Once David had faith in God, he belonged to Him.
THAT is what being a true Christian means. We belong to Christ. But we “long” to be more like Him every day.