How to spot a Christian

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What is being a Christian actually about? Do you qualify as a Christian if, like Paul seems to suggest, you believe a particular set of propositions; ‘right belief’ that ensures you’re saved and will go to heaven after you die? Do you have to sing songs about how marvellous Jesus is and how much you love him? Do you show you’re a Christian by defending God’s ‘standards’, which you know about from a very selctive reading of the bible? Does being a Christian entail arguing vociferously that Jesus is God, that he rose from the dead and that the bible is God’s inspired word? Is it insisting, with all the loving aggression you can muster, that non-believers are bound for hell, that homosexuals are disgustingly evil and that these, like every other period in the past two millennia, are the end times?

This is what a modern Christian looks like. He or she does these kinds of things, and a whole lot more, that Jesus, as he’s portrayed in the synoptic gospels, wouldn’t recognise. His idea of a Christian (not that he’d know the term) is a very different animal. Here’s what Jesus expects of one of his followers –

They:

cut themselves off from their family – hate them, in fact – just to follow him (Luke 14.26);

deny everything about themselves (Matthew 16.24-27);

forsake home, job, wealth, status, credibility and comfort to help bring about God’s Kingdom on Earth (Mark 10.29-31 etc);

slave tirelessly in the service of others (Mark 10.43-44; Matthew 23.11 etc);

sell their possessions so that they can give the proceeds to the poor (Matthew 19.21; Luke 14.33);

turn the other cheek, repeatedly go the extra mile and give away the shirt and coat off their back – if they’ve still got them after giving everything away – (Matthew 5.38-40);

welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit those in prison (Matthew 25.35-40);

forgive again and again and again (Matthew 18.21-22);

don’t judge others in case they’re judged in return (Matthew 7.1-3);

love their enemies (Matthew 5.44);

regard persecution and injustices done to them as blessings (Matthew 5.11);

do miracles even more impressive than Jesus’s own (Mark 16.17-18; John 14.12);

heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons (Matthew 10.7-8);

are granted whatever they ask for in prayer (Mark 11.24; Matthew 21.22);

don’t subscribe to a magic salvation-formula (found nowhere in the synoptic gospels).

Yes, Jesus was completely insane, demanding all this, and more, of those foolish enough to align themselves with him. But demand he did.

I’m sure there are Christians today who do everything he expected… somewhere, possibly… but I don’t know any. They’re all too busy enjoying their affluent, middle-class lives, singing songs at PraiseFests, judging others and squabbling about doctrine from behind their keyboards. It makes you wonder why they call Jesus their Lord when they don’t do a thing he tells them (Matthew 7.21).

Is your marriage a Bible-based marriage? Find out in this simple quiz.

Marry

1. If you’re male, have you got more than one wife? If female, has your husband got other wives as well as you?

If you answer ‘yes’, score 20 points: all the heroes of the Old Testament had multiple wives: Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, David, Solomon… Clearly, polygamy is acceptable in the sight of the Lord (Exodus 21.10). Even Jesus approves of it (Matthew 5.17-18 & 25.1-13). Well done if this is you! No points for a ‘no’ answer – you’ve a lot of catching up to do.

2. Are you married to your brother/sister?

20 for yes, nothing for no. God approves of this kind of marriage in Genesis 16.1-3 and as we know, the answer’s always in Genesis.

3. Ladies, were you a virgin on your wedding night?

Score 20 if you were. Otherwise, get your husband to have you stoned to death on your dad’s doorstep, like Deuteronomy 22.13-21 says he should.

4. Were you under-age when you married?

No problem. In fact, the minimum age for marriage in the Jesus’ time was 12 for girls, 13 for boys so award yourself 25 bonus points if you were still a child when you married. Nothing though if you were ancient… like say, 20.

 5. Have you taken a slave as a partner?

Another 30 points if you have. God’s quite happy with this arrangement. The slave might not be, but who cares? Not God, that’s for sure (Numbers 31.17-18).

6. Men, did you buy your bride off her father? Ladies were you bought?

To really qualify as a bible-based marriage, this how it should be. You gonna argue with Genesis 34.12 and Exodus 22.16-17? Score 50 if money changed hands. Nothing if it you did it all for love: that’s not biblical at all.

7. Have you married your brother’s newly widowed wife?

70 points if you did – it’s what God expects (Genesis 38.9 & Deuteronomy 25.5-10). Just don’t spill your semen on the ground on the wedding night because, as Onan discovered, sex-obsessed Yahweh will smite thee if thou doest.

 8. Do you frolic naked round a garden with your partner without bothering with a formal marriage service?

Score 50 if this Adam-and-Eve arrangement is for you – they didn’t bother with marriage either. You get nothing if you keep your clothes on while gardening.

9. Do you hate your spouse (and children and your father and mother)?

Jesus says you should, in Luke 14.26, so that you can follow him more zealously. If you really can’t stand the person you’ve married to, score 100 points. You get nothing if you’re soppy and still love your wife or husband.

10. Christians, have you shunned marriage altogether?

Your Saviour says you should (Luke 20.34-35) otherwise you’re not worthy of a place in his Kingdom (offer good only in the first century, admittedly). Award yourself 200 points if you’ve been obedient, nothing if you decided this instruction wasn’t for you and you went ahead and got married anyway!

11. Have you castrated yourself for Jesus’ sake?

He thinks you should, you know; see Matthew 19.12. Score 500 (though not much else) for taking this final step. You get nothing for deciding – again! – that this isn’t for you. What are you? A man or a wimp?

12. Have you divorced your partner and married another?

True, Jesus doesn’t approve of divorce, but more ‘bible-believing’ Christians divorce in the USA than non-believers (32% compared with 30%) and they can’t all be wrong. What does Jesus know anyway? Add an extra 100 points to your score for every additional wife or husband you’ve had.

So how did you do?

0. Forget it. You marriage is worthless in the eyes of the Lord.

5-100: What must God think? You’ve really let him down. He offers you all these attractive, biblical options – multiple wives, slaves, siblings  – and you’ve not gone for any of them. For shame.

100-199: Get serious! You think biblical marriage is negotiable?

200 and 499. Pretty good. You’ve avoided marriage, just like JC says you should.

Over 500: You’ve definitely got a bible-based marriage. Or rather, you haven’t, and no balls either.