What is Christian?

Recently there has been a slew of music bands that are trying to forsake the title of “Christian Music” for their Genre. They are claiming that there music should fall under whatever Genre they compose their music under such as Rap or Rock and Roll or any number of other Genres but that they are Christian, not their music. This has obviously led to many people getting into debates and so it brings up the question, what is Christian?

The short version of the story comes is that as the church grew, the members of the church had radically changed their lives and were acting like Christ. The term Christian comes from the concept of “like Christ.” The believers in Christ were primarily Jewish, and the gentiles who started believing in the Jewish Messiah. So ultimately all Christians are just Jewish with the distinction of believing the Messiah has already come instead of looking for the Messiah still. Therefore the idea of being a Christian just tied more to the behavior than the belief. While the term Christian has come to mean more than just the way a group of Jews are behaving, to a whole belief system, this belief system is characterized by how its adherents behave and should still be reflected in those who hold to believing in the Jewish Messiah already having arrived.

In relation to contemporary life, there is a huge movement to separate the sacred from the secular. Over the last 30-40 years or so this has become increasing popular . This is what is happening with Christian music artists and while they may not want to look at their music as anything besides the genre it falls into, their lives should be like Christ and that would include their music as well. Whatever their reasoning is, it may be to be accepted by the masses so they can have a greater ministry, but I can’t seem to find any justification for this concept in scripture. From what I can tell, they are trying to remove themselves from the “Christian” label to increase their popularity (whether for ministry or for selfish reasons). For whatever reason these bands are trying to separate the sacred from the secular as well in what they do.

Unfortunately this is not the model we are supposed to follow since we are supposed to do everything for the Glory of the Lord (Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31, etc) More importantly, it should be noted that the principle should be applied that in songs that are very specifically not about Jesus, they should still be Christian. While the item itself may not be “Christian” the result of everything we should do should be as a Christian. Think of the architects of the middle ages and whether or not they were designing and building churches, their work was done unto the Lord and thereby “Christian.” The same thing goes with “Secular” musical artists, if I’m listening to a song that is written by someone not under a “christian” recording label, the tendency in Christian circles is that it can’t be good and uplifting and glorifying to God. But at the same time, some of these secular artists are singing songs that are more glorifying to God than the Christian artists do. But does that make the specific song they sing more “Christian” than their other songs?

Taking this once again to a topic outside of music, lets look at art. If there are two pictures, one of a cross and one of the view overlooking a city, which one is more “Christian”? Might it be that the picture of the cross was made by someone trying to show an instrument of death and destruction and attempting to signify the defeat of Christ (as Satan thought had happened when Christ died) and thereby is a testament to evil whereas the city could be created by someone for the purpose of being amazed by God’s creation? Which one now is more “Christian”? This is why the label of ‘Christian’ can be misleading either way. However, tying all of this back to the question you posed in service, these bands are most likely trying to break the mold of the title “Christian” by saying my music is just whatever genre it is labeled under while my life is “Christian” but their music is going to be an overflowing of their life and therefore if their life is “Christian” their music ought to fall into that category as well. Especially when you think of how the term “Christian” comes from the concept that the believers were ‘like Christ’ and so if they are living a life similar to what Christ would have lived and making music that would glorify Christ (and if you claim to be a Christian, even if a song is not about Christ, it still ought to glorify Christ) that music should then be Christian as well, even if the song is about something as silly as laffy taffy.

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