You go to church, but that doesn’t mean you are a Christian. You don’t go to church, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian.

What is church anyways? A sanctuary, a building, a place Christians herd through on Sundays. I like going back and searching for basic definitions, because they help me understand bigger concepts. Church can be a place where we go on Sundays, but you should think of it as a common ground for fellow believers to meet and worship God.

It’s a place that reminds us of God’s grace.

It gives us comfort, reassurance, wisdom, but more importantly, it is a place we can be with God. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I grew up going to church regularly, but it wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I made my own decision to attend. Despite the unfortunate circumstances my family was under, I developed a strong desire to go and listen to the pastor. I wanted to study the bible more, and by doing so, I developed a personal relationship with God.

The habit of going to church with my family always facilitated my learning about Jesus, but our family unit broke up towards the end of high school. No longer did I have someone taking me to church. I had to made that decision on my own. The act of deciding to go on my own represents making the decision to put my faith in Jesus. I grew up going to church, but that doesn’t mean anything.

What defines someone as a Christian is not whether they go to church every Sunday or not, it’s whether or not they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and they desire to grow closer to Him. If I have a basic understanding of the bible but I don’t follow it and try to live my life according to it, then how can I call myself a Christian? Delving deeper into this question of “What makes someone a Christian?” leads me to scripture.

Look at Matthew 19, because there’s a story about a rich man who asked Jesus how to attain eternal life in heaven. In verse 21, “Jesus said, ‘If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me.’"

Should we take that literally and get rid of everything in our possession?

While as believers we tithe and be generous in our offerings to the Lord, this verse has another meaning. We should get rid of anything that stops us from following Jesus wholeheartedly. God should be the center of our lives, regardless of our circumstances.

In Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, ‘Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” I remember a Sunday morning in first grade, my sisters, my mom, and I listened to a church sermon on the TV.

After it was over, my mom asked me, “Madi, have you ever asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you for your sins?” She explained that I had to do that on my own and that she couldn’t do it for me. I felt like I was too young and I didn’t want to do something so radical, but she said I wasn’t too young and every person needs to ask Jesus that. So I did.

My question for you is this: have you asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you for your sins? Can you say that you have a personal relationship with Him? If you can boldly proclaim that you believe Jesus is the Son of God and he is your savior, then you are a Christian.

I don’t care if you go to church, I don’t care if you make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve sinned in the past, because Jesus forgives our sins. But, only if you ask Him. Romans 10:9 says, “Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”