The Mark of the Christian

First and foremost we do not bear the mark of our church or our denomination, but we bear the grace and presence of Christ whose death on our behalf and whose welcome and empowerment issue in a life of love and service.

In our modern world being a Christian can mean far too many things: being a Westerner, holding a belief in God’s existence, being a political conservative, being committed to justice issues, being an emotional Pentecostal, being an activist Evangelical, being a highbrow church person. The list could go on and on.

But all of these attempts to typify miss the mark. The heart of Christianity is about knowing God the creator and redeemer who brings us to fullness of life in Christ through the Spirit.

The heart of being a Christian is to bear the mark of Christ. That mark symbolized in baptism means to come to new life and to be graced by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts. And it is the Spirit’s pleasure to ground us in Christ and to make us more Christlike.

The Christian life, therefore, does not first and foremost move us towards something, but issues out of something: God’s indwelling presence. From this presence comes the desire for worship and obedience and the longing to love and serve. It is the indwelling presence of God rather than the external law of God that truly empowers us.

St. Ignatius of Antioch is, therefore, right: “we have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians.”3 And to be Christians means that Christ must ever more take shape in us.

Charles R. Ringma, Hear the Ancient Wisdom. A Meditational Reader for the Whole Year from the Early Church Fathers to the Pre-Reformation


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