I remember when my son first went to kindergarten and during his first week he reported back to us that he was having fun and he told us all about his teacher who he liked, but when we asked if he had made any friends in school yet and he said, “no.” It seemed odd that he had come home so happy but hadn’t made any friends, so we asked him if he played with anyone, and he said, “yes,” and it turned out he had played with the same child a bunch of times. So we asked him, “well is that child your friend?” And my son innocently said, “He hasn’t said he is my friend.”
There is a real truth in his answer. Even through the kindergarten relationship revolved around playing blocks together, an important part of relationship is intent and consent on both sides. Robert needed to hear his playmate say he was his friend for them to be friends.
When we say that we are a Christian, we are saying that we are in a relationship with Christ. We know it is true and we are stating our commitment to that relationship.
Of course, our relationship with Christ is different from the kind of relationships that we have been people. Being in God’s presence is different from being in the company of other people, but it is no less real.
In a close relationship with another person we talk together, work together, and live closely together. And with Christ, we pray in place of talking. We proclaim the gospel in word and deed as Christ did, which is how we work together. We connect with other Christians by being in Christian community together.
Therefore, when we say, “I am a Christian,” we are saying that we are in a relationship with Christ.