Edgar Lungu says he is a political animal but a Christian.
But what does it mean to be a Christian?
The word Christian is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because they believed in Christ and followed His example. The word was initially used by their detractors in a derogatory sense, but believers embraced the term as a badge of honor.
While the first-century Christians did follow the teachings, practices and example of Jesus Christ at that time, since then, the term has virtually lost its meaning – as it’s usually not accompanied by the same way of life and understanding. Today many, like Edgar, claim to be Christians yet don’t really follow Jesus’ teachings.
To be a true Christian, a person must change – really change! Acts 2:37-39 shows that Christians must “repent” and walk a different way of life. In biblical terms, this process of change, of surrendering one’s life and turning it over to God is called conversion. Obviously, a human being cannot change everything at once, but one can have a repentant attitude and turn in the right direction, making basic changes as he or she embarks on a new path of overcoming sin, bearing “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
We are not in any way seeing such a change, even in the smallest of ways, in Edgar. He is still as violent, intolerant, dishonest, crooked, corrupt as ever! He is continuing to be the devil incarnate. The apostle Paul helps us understand what a Christian is by simply stating that we should imitate Paul as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Later in the first century, the apostle Peter likewise reminded the Church that they were to follow Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21).
Christ’s example involved compassion and love for others (John 3:16; Matthew 9:36) along with keeping the commandments of God (Matthew 5:17-19). Christians will understand the teachings and way of life in the Scriptures and will strive to live by them (Luke 4:4). Christians will put their calling before everything and everyone else (Luke 14:2).
To be a Christian means being so constrained by a sense of the love of our divine Lord to us, that we consecrate our lives to him. Being a Christian does not mean merely believing in our head that Christ died for us. It means “being constrained” by that reality. The truth presses in on us; it grips and holds; it impels and controls. It surrounds us and won’t let us run from it. Paul says that the love of Christ for him constrains him because of a judgment that he formed about that death. “. . . having made this judgment, that one died for all therefore all died.” Paul became a Christian not when he decided that Christ died for sinners, but when he made the sober judgment that the death of Christ was also the death of all for whom he died.
You are called “Christians” because of your behaviour, activity, and speech is like that of Christ. The word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or “belonging to the party of Christ.”
The Bible says that good works do not make us acceptable to God. In other words, a person can live to a high moral standard, give money to feed the poor, go to church, and serve their neighbours, and yet not be a Christ follower or “Christian.”
Titus 3:3-6 says, “At one time, we, too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy, He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 explains further, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
A true Christian is a person who has accepted God’s gift of salvation and put their faith in Jesus Christ. This includes accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins and His resurrection as proof of His power over death. If you’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation, how has your life changed? Do you have the marks of a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian? If so, your life will be characterized by love for others and obedience to God’s Word. 1 John 2:4-6 says, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”