I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Relate: What makes a Christian a Christian? Even a cursory glance at history or sociology shows that this question can be much more complex than what first seems. What resemblance today exists between a country Pentecostal church in Alabama and the twelfth-century Irish monks? What is the commonality between an Egyptian Coptic church today with that church of which Augustine said, “the church is a whore, but she is our mother”? Russian Orthodox, Latin Catholic, American Methodist, Scots Presbyterian, Korean pentecostal… there is such a wide variety of culture and tradition and history and even doctrine that falls under the umbrella of Christianity.
Some of these might be very different from what I know, but I could still find a home in such a culture and practice very easily. I could see myself in some other era investing a lifetime in a monastery copying scriptures by hand. Others I would recognize as Christian but would not for a second feeling comfortable there, like the sixth-century lavish iconography of the Byzantine churches in Constantinople. There are others who would like to call themselves Christian but I do not feel they have a right to the name. How dare the state churches in Nazi Germany try to call themselves followers of Christ? But with such a wide variety of history and culture, what is our litmus test? What makes a Christian a Christian?
React: The answer is actually easier than it seems. What will I do with Christ? Do I believe he truly died on the cross for my sins, was buried and rose from the dead on the third day? Everything else is peripheral. How they do church, what they think of the Bible, the rigidity or flexibility of their doctrine, their opinion of Mary and the saints, whether or not they worship with instruments or even which day the church gathers… as important as things may seem, compared to the most important thing they are subsidiary. Who is Jesus to me? That is what really matters. There are six words that every true Christian would embrace as fundamental. Jesus died, Jesus rose, Jesus saves. That is what makes a Christian a Christian.
I am so thankful for the richness and diversity among those who call themselves by Your Name. I am so glad that there is no uniform box that all of us have to fit in with our worship to You. Help me to show greater love and respect for each part of the body of which You are the head. Help me to remember to keep You the main thing. For that most important thing, Your death and resurrection, I am so grateful.