Is being religious the same thing as being a Christian? Some people – perhaps many people think so. Americans are often viewed as “Christians” because American is viewed as a “Christian” nation. I think most Americans know better.
It is possible to be religious and be a Christian but it’s also possible to be religious and not be a Christian. The two words are not synonymous.
Different people define these words/concepts in different ways. To some people the word religious simply means belonging to one of a variety of religious organizations. To another person it might carry the idea of faithfulness or devotion to a particular religion. Still to other people it can mean devotion to an ultimate reality or deity (take your pick).
Based on these perceptions, being religious is a more general term. It’s about how devoted a person is – but the object of the devotion can change. It’s about belonging to a group but the group can be one of many. It’s about subscribing to a set of ideas but they can be anyone’s ideas.
Christianity is different. It’s more restrictive. You don’t get a lot of flexibility here. And you don’t get to impose your definition on something that was defined two thousand years ago.
Historically and by definition, Christianity is about a relationship with the Eternal God through the Lord Jesus Christ in a way that affects every area of life. It’s a life-changing, life- altering connection (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Still, different people have different ideas about Christianity. But they are not all equally valid. One of the easiest ways to explain what it means to be a Christian is to say what it is NOT.
You are not a Christian because you:
-were born in this country
-live in this country
-attend a certain church – or attend church at all
-have been baptized
-like the idea of Jesus
-are a Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran or any other denomination
-try to live by the Golden Rule
-are a nice person and help other people
None of these ideas can be found in the Bible, nor were they subscribed to by the earliest followers of Jesus.
Even claiming to be a Christian does not make it so.
To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ (Acts 4:13, 11:27). It’s to believe what He taught (John 14:15). It’s to live how He said (Romans 13:14). It’s to be completely devoted to the person of Jesus (Matthew 6:34, Luke 4:8).
You can say that to be a Christian is to be religiously, in every sense of the word, united to the person of Jesus.
To be religious is not enough. In fact, by itself it will gain you very little in life. You need to be Christian in the truest sense of the word.
Stay in the Word