What does it mean to be a Christian? part 1

Our Northeastern Ohio Synod has a training program for discipleship that we call The Dandelion Project. We are concluding our first cohort’s two year event and just beginning our second cohort, cleverly entitled, The Dandelion Project, Too!

We chose the image of a dandelion because each part of a dandelion has uses. The taproot goes deep and provides plenty of nourishment for the plant. The leaves collect oxygen and moisture for survival. The flower turns to seed and provides a way to provide new plants. And, if you pick the blossoms when they are bright and yellow, they can make a great dandelion wine! We were able to translate the gifts of a dandelion to the discipleship of Christianity.

At our most recent online event for our first cohort, our consultant, Pastor David Daubert, asked, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” The question startled me out of a daydream. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there can be many different answers. It really depends on one’s theology and experience. How I understand Christianity is different than what my neighbor might envision. A Methodist might answer differently than an Eastern Orthodox believer. A non-Christian’s answer would be different, still.

As a Lutheran the first word that comes to my mind is “Grace.” To be a Christian means to be grace-filled and grace-flowing. Lutherans emphasize that we are saved by grace through faith, and that grace (God’s love freely given) is how we relate to others. Grace is imbued into us at our baptism so that we carry God’s grace with us.

Lutherans make promises at their baptisms that they intend to live their lives a certain way. Parents or sponsors will make them for infants who are later asked to affirm them for themselves. So, I answer the question “What does it mean to be a Christian?” through these promises:

to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

For you, what does it mean to be a Christian? How do you answer that question? If you aren’t a Christian, what do you think it means to be a Christian?

I plan to reflect more on each one of these promises in the future. I invite you to reflect as well.

One response to “What does it mean to be a Christian? part 1”

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