What does it mean to be “Christian”?

I can only imagine how many zillion blog posts there must be with this kind of title, but this has been on my mind so much lately. I’m working on part of the paper that cannot avoid this topic and my thoughts continue to go back to this question.

Then yesterday I was doing some research for Christmas on some Jewish/Christian connections in our story and stumbled onto this blog post. It recounts a story from the NY Post about a young Jewish couple and their “run in” with a group of about 14 “Christians”. While this story certainly isn’t typical of the people that I know that call themselves Christian, (in fact it would incredibly atypical), the interesting part to me was the view from the writer/blogger’s perspective. Then to top it all off the story of the Muslim who jumped into help the Jewish couple escape. The post ends with this prayer/benediction, “In the name of the most Merciful, may we all come to break bread together in friendship.” This is a prayer that I would echo in this and all situations. I also pretty much dismissed the story as overdone to make a story especially at the holiday season.

HOWEVER, also yesterday my good friend Jeremy emailed me asking if I had heard/read about this interaction from crosswalk between radio host Paul Edwards and John MacArthur (and you can read Doug Pagitt’s kinda response here). As I read this two part recount, with the prayer from the other blog in my mind, it couldn’t help but sting a bit. Is this what it means to be “Christian”? Really?

As someone who calls himself a “Christian” it makes me wonder what it is we Christians are really doing and being. I know it should have a lot to do with grace, love and redemption. I know it should embrace faith, hope and love. But where is that exactly? I know these are two isolated incidences that have hit my radar in a day’s time, but we could go on and on from here.

My question in this jumbled up chaos is this:

Is this prayer – “In the name of the most Merciful, may we all come to break bread together in friendship.” – a Christian prayer and if so how can we pray it and live it together? In the shadow of the two examples of above?

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One Response to What does it mean to be “Christian”?

  1. Josh says:

    Good questions…

    In looking at Jesus’ words and prayers, I think we find blessings for peacemakers and prayer for unity. So there is definite evidence of Jesus’ desire for harmony.

    How do we pray it? I think we pray it by praying for peace.

    How do we live it? This should spring out of the prayer. And it needs to be filled with imagination. There is something mystical that happens when we break bread with others, when we sit and look into the face of another person and partake of God’s blessings to us. So, it seems that we ought to take the opportunity to do just that…however that may be worked out…(taking co-workers out for a drink, inviting the neighbors over for bar-b-que, throwing a block party, not eating lunch at your desk…)

    But what do we do with the places where Jesus shows his wrath? Where he upsets the temple, where he curses the hypocrits?

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