What is a True Christian?
In today's world, Christianity has become diverse with over 20,000 different Christian denominations; many of which profess completely different interpretations of the Bible. The Apostle Paul taught, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Ephesians 4:5) So here we are, many of us trying our best to come to Jesus and be saved. How are we to know what "truth" is and where to go to find it?
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus spoke of how the shepherd left the flock to find the one. Each of us is important to our Lord. If we will call out to Him, He will find us. We should not put our trust in man, but in our Father who is in Heaven. If we will do our best in this life to embrace what we believe to be true based on the words of the Master, I believe much of the misunderstandings on points of doctrine will be resolved in the world to come. God is merciful to those who love Him.
In my experience I have met with many groups of people as I have traveled. I have come to know the Catholics, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Evangelicals, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons (this is my faith), the Mennonites, and many more. One common feature I have seen in every denomination that professes Christ is that there are truly good people who love Jesus and wish to emulate Him in there lives. But there are also those who are filled with hypocrisy and find fault in everyone else but themselves. I'm not mentioning this to point fingers...it is simply a fact of the world we live in.
Anyone can call themselves a Christian. But when has the acceptance of others ever been a prerequisite to entering the Lord's Kingdom? I believe the only thing that matters is how we stand in the Lord's eyes. In my painting, the suffering Jesus looks back as if to say, "What will you do? Will you stand as a witness of me?"
I believe God will judge us based on what is in our heart and our actions. It is true that we are saved by the grace of Jesus if we come to Him and repent. But to be numbered among the true Disciples of Christ we must truly love Him. "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) And then He said, "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self." (Matt 19:37-39) As humans, we often fall short, but if we strive to be more like Him and express that love through our service to others, we will be good Christians.
There is one more element that I believe qualifies one as a "true Christian." I like the scripture, "perfect love casteth out fear." (1 John 4:18) As a Christian, we must not fear. Even if it means that we must stand alone. And after we have done all that we can do, we must continue to stand. "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt 10:22) A true Christian's love for Jesus Christ will motivate him to stand up for his beliefs, to love others unconditionally, and to be an advocate for truth and righteousness...regardless of the consequences. That we may find the strength do so is my reason for painting this picture.