What does it look like to be a Christian? Do I have to have special bumper stickers that go next to my kid’s honor roll announcement and my pollical affiliation sticker? How do I stand out from the sea of others that make claims of spirituality and general goodness? Before we get into what we look like, we must understand that a new life doesn’t happen until after baptism. “So that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). After that act a new life is required.
Thankfully, the Bible does not leave us without information on this subject. The latter half of the fourth chapter of Ephesians provides distinct direction for us. It first reminds us of what the new life isn’t (Eph. 4:17-19). The old life was one that was characterized with ignorance and a hard heart. Such a one has “given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (Eph. 4:19).
Those that are in a new life “did not learn Christ in this way” (Eph. 4:20). Those that have “heard Him and have been taught by Him” recognize the difference between old and new (Eph 4:21). We must understand “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). This type of recognition of old verses now requires that changes be made. No more lying (Eph. 4:25). Do not sin in anger (Eph. 4:26-27). Do not steal. On the contrary, work so that you will be able to provide and help others (Eph. 4:28). Do not sin in speech, but rather be known for saying things that edify (Eph. 4:29). Put away all forms of anger (Eph. 4:31). In turn, “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
These kinds of changes should ring out as a difference from our former manner of conduct. Those that knew us should be “surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you” (1 Pet. 4:4). This type of life is one that is notably differenced as light to darkness and salted to unpreserved (Matt. 5:13-16). Now let’s answer the question, “What does it look like to be a Christian?” The most obvious answer is we look like Christ. The daily “how to” of that equation is a change of conduct, speech, thinking, and general concern for the well-being of others. If people can see a difference in you, great! If they can’t see a difference in you from the sea of people around you, then something needs to change.