What exactly is a Christian?
The short answer is that a Christian is someone who is in relationship with God because of their attitude to Jesus. The two important things to realise is that it is about relationship with God and it is made available only through Jesus. Let me explain.
God, as creator of the world, has made us (humanity) to have a relationship with him, it is a built in need we have and we find fulfillment in it. Through such a relationship God pours out his blessings and gives us all that we need.
Yet our desire for independence has meant that we have turned our back on God (this is what sin is all about). Some of us do this actively by denying his existence or denying his right to demand our allegiance. But many of us do this pasively by simply ignoring him.
Because of this God is angry with us our relationship with him has been fractured. It is very similar to the way a marriage relationship is fractured when a husband walks out on his wife (or vice versa).
While God is angry with us, his love for us compels him to do something about it. So through his Son, Jesus Christ, he reconcils us to himself, repairing the relationship and offering us an opportunity to come back to him. In the bible (2 Corinthians 6, vs 11-21), God’s message to humanity is that He “was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them”. So now God promises forgiveness and restored relationship with him to any who turn back to him and trust (put their faith in) in his Son Jesus.
A Christian, therefore, is someone who:
- recognises that they have turned their backs on God,
- recognises that out of his love for us, God has reconciled us to himself through the death of his son, and
- turns back to God and believes God’s promise of forgiveness, putting their trust in Jesus Christ and his death on their behalf.
You will find a more in depth description of a Christian at http://www.christianity.net.au/god/
How do you know if you are a Christian?
If you recognise that you have turned your back on God and believe and therefore trust (put your faith in) God’s promise to save you through Jesus then you are a Christian and in a restored relationship with God. It’s that simple.
The way that you express that trust is to work hard to live as God wants you to. It stands to reason - if ignoring God led to a fractured relationship with him then having that relationship restored means paying attention to him. This means listening to him by reading the bible, it means talking to him in prayer, it means obeying him as your God and it means meeting with other christians in church. These are the outward signs of this renewed relationship.
Finally I want to encourage you to remember that a Christian is not perfect, so while we try to live as God wants us to, we do fail. in such cases we need to remember that Jesus died to pay the penalty for that failure, so when you fall - get up, admit your sin and give thanks for what Jesus has done for you. Look at what Jesus has done rather than what you have done because his actions, not yours, are the actions by which God has saved you.