Youth Messenger Online Edition


“Are You A Christian?”
“Are You A Christian?”
Eunice Braidman

We may be asked many questions in life regarding various subjects, but I believe one of the most important questions we will ever be asked is, “Are you a Christian”? I remember, not long ago, I was shopping for a few things at a grocery store when an older gentleman approached me and asked, “Are you a Christian?” “Yes, how did you know?” I replied. “By the way you dress,” he answered simply. This short encounter prompted me to ponder three things: what is our usual reaction to such a question and assumption? When we say “Yes, I’m a Christian,” do we think of and remember everything that is entailed in being a true Christian? And lastly, are we constantly conscious of the fact that the world is always watching and observing us whether we are aware of it or not—and do we thus remember why it is so important that we act and live as true Christians in every way, including in the way we dress?

Each day we are to be growing greater in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and striving each day to better represent His character.

To touch on the first thought, when we are asked such a question, especially based on the way we dress, there will usually be only two reactions. We will either feel embarrassed to stand out and be different from the rest of the world, or we will feel happy to see that the world notices we are different because we live to please God. Needless to say, the first reaction is perhaps the more natural one, as most of the time it is not our tendency to enjoy “sticking out like a sore thumb.” However, the second reaction should and will be ours if we truly love God and strive to represent Him to the world. But a difference should not be evident only in our apparel; it should also be noticed in our speech and in every other aspect of our life. Truly, when someone asks us: “Are you a Christian?” our hearts should be happy to realize that the world, by simply observing us, can see that we strive to live like children of God. In reality, such a question should bring us joy and encouragement as it means that, by God’s grace, “we are doing something right,” because if we are true Christians, we will not have to tell others who we are. They will notice it on their own. When we see an apple tree and an orange tree, we can easily know which one is which by the fruit it is yielding—oranges or apples. In the same way, others should and will be able to see if we are Christians by our fruits, by the words we say, the things we do, the lives we live. But how often do we find ourselves engaging in seemingly small compromises to make us just a little like the world in order to feel a little less different! Perhaps this is evident in the wearing of a slightly shorter skirt or in the utterance of a “semi-bad” word. But must we truly be different from the world, even in dress? In Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 171, we find the following: “The dress reform is treated by some with great indifference and by others with contempt, because there is a cross attached to it. For this cross I thank God. It is just what we need to distinguish and separate God’s commandment-keeping people from the world.” We are told in 1 Peter 2:9: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” But what does peculiar mean? According to the Webster’s dictionary, it means “of only one person, thing, Group, or country,” “distinctive,” “unique,” as well as “special.” Sometimes it seems that we forget we were placed in this world to be “a peculiar people,” to be different and special, and to be as little like the world as possible. If we call ourselves Christians and yet the world cannot see it, does not wonder and ask, or does not see a difference, we are not living up to our name of “Christian.” We are failing God and bringing dishonor to His name. What a frightening and sobering thought!

When we say we are Christians, regardless of whether or not someone has asked us, are we conscious of the seriousness of what we are saying? No doubt many of us, myself included, often say the words almost automatically without giving thought to their true meaning. Surely we all know that to be a Christian means to be “Christ-like,” but do we think of this every time we say we are Christians? While the way we speak, dress, the music we listen to, and other such factors are important in defining a Christian, true Christianity encompasses more than these external factors. It means that, in addition to the previous things, we are reflecting Christ’s character in all areas of our life. It means that we are like Christ, or at least that we're striving to be so. The messenger of God sums up in one short sentence what it means to be a true Christian: “In all things we are to be representatives of Him” (Counsels to the Church, p. 180). Not only is it a blessing and privilege to be able to say we are Christians; it also implies a great commitment and responsibility. If we say we are Christians, the world will expect us to look and act as such. Every time we think, say, or are asked if we are Christians, it should remind us that each day we are to be growing greater in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and striving each day to better represent His character. It should remind us that each day we are to dress, speak, eat, and live in a way that pleases God rather than ourselves or those around us. It should remind us that Christianity isn’t simply a religion; it is a lifestyle, and the purpose of saying we are Christians shouldn’t be to define who we are—but rather to define who Christ is in our life.

We should ask ourselves, are my words pleasing to God? Is my speech different from that of the world? Am I a Christian? Does my choice of clothing reflect this?

This brings me to my final point. When someone asks us a question like this, we are reminded of the fact that we truly are living epistles, known and read of all men (2 Corinthians 3:2). Even if we do not speak to someone, they are still observing and watching us, and whether or not we intend to, we are leaving an impression on their minds. Not only are we surrounded by a heavenly cloud of witnesses, we are also surrounded by witnesses here on earth. We must remember this every day before we leave our homes to go to our respective jobs, to school, to the store, or wherever it may be. What kind of testimony will we be giving by our dress, our attitude, our deportment, our speech? Will the world be able to tell we are God’s representatives, ambassadors of heaven? Or will we be lost in the worldly crowds and blend in with all those that mill about us? When we speak we should ask ourselves, are my words pleasing to God? Is my speech different from that of the world? Each morning upon choosing our attire for that day we should stop to ask, am I a Christian? Does my choice of clothing reflect this? “Dress is an index of the mind and heart. That which is hung upon the outside is the sign of what is within” (Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 289). If we dress immodestly and inappropriately, what message does this relay about the kind of person we are and, more importantly, about our Christian experience? If we dress like the world, speak like the world, act like the world, how will the world be able to see and know that we are Christ’s followers? If apples and oranges look the same and smell the same, how will we know which ones are apples and which are oranges? According to 2 Corinthians 6:17, the Lord says we are to come out from among them and be separate! True separation does not imply simply assisting the SDARM church rather than the fallen churches of the world. It means not imitating the practices of the world so that others are not led to confuse us with those who are of the world. The pen of Inspiration tells us, “It is impossible for any of us to live in such a way that we shall not cast an influence in the world” (The Adventist Home, p. 33). Each day we will be giving a testimony to the world; we will be having an influence on those with whom we come in contact. What kind of influence are we exerting? The servant of the Lord asks us many important questions: “What fruit have we borne. . . ? What has been our influence upon others?

. . . The eyes of the world are upon us. Are we living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men? . . . Will the world be compelled to acknowledge us to be servants of Christ?” (Lift Him Up, p. 15). [Emphasis added.] May God help us so that each day we may live a life that glorifies Him and points others to Christ, so that we may be able to truly say with our lips as well as with our lives: “Yes, by God’s grace, I am a Christian.”