by Reverend Amanda
Growing up, I was always a bit of a loner. Despite being outgoing when I converse with people, I much prefer to just do my own thing than to be a part of large groups of people. I am much happier curled up on the couch with a good book than I am at a party. I was never one who gave into social pressures very often. If my friends were doing something I didn’t want to do, I wasn’t going to join them no matter what. I had no problem going my own way. This trait didn’t always win me lots of friends. I wasn’t always the best team player. But this was and is authentic to who I am. This is who God has created me to be and how I live into his call upon my life.
One of the things that I has always been a pet peeve of mine is when people are not genuine with me. When someone pretends to be something they are not. Similarly, I find it aggravating when people think they are telling me something about themselves when they say they are a “Good Christian”. My first thought to that comment is always in the form of a question, “What do you mean by that?” I find those phrases to be quite loaded and vary tremendously in their meaning from person to person. So, let’s have bit of fun today. What does it mean to be a good Christian? (congregational response)
On the surface you might think it is a simple answer. A Christian is a follower of Christ. But the answer is not so simple. The word Christian itself is derived from the Greek word “Christos” which roughly translates to “anointed one”. To be a Christian then requires that we contemplate what it means to be anointed into faith and what God has anointed us to do in this world and with our lives. It is about working together to search out how God is speaking to us, leading us, healing us, and calling us into action. Being Christian is not about trying to convince everyone else around us that we are “Good Christians”. It is about not caring about the thoughts of other and living into the message and ministry of God because that is what is authentic to us and our ministries. To be a Christian is about making a life choice to live into the mission of God in this world not because we want to impress someone else, not because of reputation but because we accept that our hearts, souls, and lives belong to God and we care for his creation all around us.
Lisa Bevere writes, “God is not looking for people who act like Christians. He wants us to be Christians! The word Christian means ‘anointed or Christlike one’. Jesus did not go around ‘being good’; he went around ‘doing good’ and releasing all who were oppressed”. Jesus was completely authentic in his role in the world. He understood, as we heard in our scriptures today, that he was the Messiah and that his mission was to give hope to the oppressed. He wasn’t just acting the role for the sake of the opinions of others. He wasn’t looking to be loved or to have a reputation of a holy man. He lived the mission of God and we are called as the baptized, as the anointed people, to do the same thing. To live as the anointed, we are called to care for others, to care about the world, and to care about our relationship with God.
To be a Christian, is not about appearances. It is not about judging the world or others. It is not about acting in a certain way. It all starts with believing in the mission of God in this world. It starts with dedicating ourselves to following God in our interactions and work in this world and to do so authentically. When Jesus was in that synagogue to preach he took the scrolls from the synagogue attendant and by tradition he was allowed to choose his own selection from the book of Isaiah and he chose this: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. He was saying something about his work, his ministry, and his personality. He wasn’t coming to build up the reputation of individuals nor of the country where he resided. He wasn’t there to fret over what his family, neighbors, or elders thought of him. He was coming to live into the word of God shown through his work with the oppressed of society. This passage serves as an explanation of just what God was doing in the world through him as the anointed one of God.
This should also be an example of how we are to lead Christ-like lives. Let’s work to place aside our desire to have others think highly of us or to cave to the pressures of how others define a “Good Christian”. Let us go forth into this world seeking what it means for us to be authentic to the call of God in our lives and how we are to live into his ministry in the world and if others get the warm fuzzies from our actions great and if they don’t just know that it does not matter at all. What matters is the work we are called to live. What matters is that we care for others and God so much that we genuinely want to do something to make this world a better place for all peoples. So, this week contemplate how God is calling you to live into his message; what has he anointed you to do in this life?
 Lisa Bevere, founder of Messenger International, co-host of Messenger TV, and author, 21st century.
 Luke 4:18-19, NRSV.