What is a Muslim? (and a Christian?)

A speaker at church last Sunday said that there are fundamentalist Muslims that shouldn’t even be called Muslims.  It was a curious comment, not because of its obvious provocation, but because I wonder: what is a Muslim?  The speaker had a certain idea of what a Muslim is, contrasted radical Muslims against that standard, and declared they are not Muslims.

If I were to turn the question back on myself I wonder, what is a Christian?  I mean, I know how to answer that on paper, but being a Christian, or Christ-follower, can be an allusive thing.  To what degree am I being a Christian?  Am I truly representing what that means?  And if I am not, at what point am I no longer a Christian?

There are plenty of Christians that I think are misguided and theologically wrong, but they are still Christians.  But then there are those that so egregiously misrepresent Jesus, like the Phelps family in Kansas, that I could confidently claim that is not Christianity.

I suppose what it boils down to is (and I’m only speaking about Christianity at this point) is three things: someone that has encountered God in Jesus Christ, submitted their lives to God in Jesus Christ, and commit to following the way of Jesus.

As I read over and over what I just wrote, being a Christian seems like a tall order.  But I just remembered something that has brought me peace.  That while I daily commit myself to follow the way of Jesus, Jesus commits himself to me.  Alas being a Christian is a lot of what I’m going to do and how I’m going to live; but more importantly it is what God continues to do in me.


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