What is a christian?

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16

The history books speak of Christian armies conquering the new world and enslaving Indian tribes. The Spanish Inquisition with all its horrors depicts Christian’s torturing their victims into submission. We have early American Christians hunting down witches and killing them. Many claim Adolph Hitler to be a christian and thus another example of a violent sadistic Christian. The list, I am sure, could go on and on. There is however a consistent problem.

If we claim to be Christians we must follow Christ. I would make a very strange Christian if I were following the teachings of Buddha or Mohammed. I would also be a strange Christian if I didn’t believe that Jesus was the messiah and the bible his word. To be a true Christian means you are following Christ and are sincerely trying to submit to his teachings. Jesus declared a principle that is basically applied by all thinking logical people. He said “You shall know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-20) Till this day we rightfully and intelligently judge people by their actions, not by what they say or claim. In other words I could claim to be a rocket scientist. Does that make me one? I could claim to be the strongest man in the world, but if my neighbor beats me in arm wrestling then I am not. My claims mean nothing if my actions do not support my claim.

The teachings of Christ are clearly laid out in the gospels for the entire world to see. Christ warned his followers that if you live by the sword you die by the sword.(Matthew 26:52) He also said that we should love our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) It is difficult to claim you love your enemies if you are torturing, burning, enslaving and killing them. He also said that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This needs some explaining. Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to clarify His teaching. We learn from the parable that your neighbor is anyone you come in contact with, due to technology that could be anyone in the world. If we are busy loving everyone as we love ourselves how could we justify harming them in anyway. This next principle from Jesus truly makes it difficult to commit acts of violence and torture on anyone. He said do unto other as you would have them do unto you. (Luke 6:31) Now if the intention of the Crusaders was to have someone invade their home, then they would be justified. However I seriously doubt that. Nor were the crusaders desperately seeking to die by the sword. They obviously were not following the teachings of Christ of doing unto others what you would have them do to you.

Now if all of these violent men were ignoring the teachings of Christ were they really Christians? The simple answer is no. If you are following someone you live by their rules.

Jesus gave of us rules of love. If we were not clear on them, He then specifically told us how to love. Our love was to be one of sacrifice. The good Samaritan went out of his way to help the injured victim he found. On another occasion he told a rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Jesus also taught that we must feed the hungry, clothes the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned. This command came with a warning, that if we failed to do this we would be condemned.(Matthew 25:35-46) Jesus also warned against harming children and the innocent.

How did Jesus expect his followers to treat sinners? First we are all sinners, which is why Jesus said judge not less ye be judged. (Matthew 7:1-3) However, Jesus did expect all sinners that would become his followers, to repent of their sins, and sincerely try not to sin. He on several occasions had commanded those he had forgiven to go and sin no more. However he never suggested forced conversions. Jesus was looking for sincerity, which is why He said we would know them by their fruit. It is also why He said we must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) Jesus did give his followers directions on what to do if their message was rejected in any given town. They were to simply leave. (Luke 9:5) No swords involved.

There have been violent men in all religions, nations, cultures, races and they have existed throughout history. They have often used their nation, culture or religion to convince others to follow and assist them in their quest for blood. Some were Muslim, others Christians or atheist. A faith should be judged on it’s holy writings and teachings of its founder. We are all seeking the truth and we should not allow ourselves to be fooled by the actions of some who claim to be the adherents of a faith but then brake every commandment of that faith. I would ask that Christianity be judged on the works of Christ and His true followers. He turned fools into wise men, leaders into servants, sinners into saints and the condemned into the saved. He has changed countless lives for the better and will continue to do so until He returns.

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