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The Line

One question I often get asked is: where is the line for being a Christian or not? 

You’d be surprised at how often I get asked that question.

Some people focus on a specific point and time for a decision to follow Christ. I certainly think that any decision of that magnitude should be the watershed in your history….and a hard to forget. But for some, they don’t really remember that “point”. For some it’s more gradual.

One seminary professor put it this way: “Everyone has to cross the Mississippi River to be a follower. You’re either on one side or the other. But the Mississippi River is narrower at some points than at other points. Some step over. Others ride a boat.”

I agree.

But the real problem today is that few actually knows what constitutes the “Mississippi River” of faith. Few know where the line lies. So here’s a simple way to remember:

A Christian is someone who has given up their future, their present, and their past to forever give control, guidance and direction to Jesus Christ. God gets to determine the Where, the When, and the What of their lives. They give up their own control, comfort, or call. 

There’s the line.

Why cross it? Because in return, He gives them a deep, real, and unbelievable life that spills over into everything around them.

That line the same for those who grew up in church as well as for those who’ve no idea who or what or if God is. It’s the same line for all of humanity. Jesus cares little how many classes, books, courses or verses you’ve memorized if you can’t cross that line. That line makes all the difference.

His call and control have to trump your comfort.

The journey of faith once that line is crossed is learning the How – which only comes from complete reliance on He who determines the Where, When and What. The How is worked out by the Holy Spirit, who is there to teach, whisper, cajole and even capture the unique creation we are becoming. In the words of a friend, the process is how the Holy Spirit helps us become “fully human” because we are now shells of what we were created to be. Where Buddhists empty themselves of all personality, we are filled with our unique personality, gifting and talents by a Creator who creates no one without purpose. That’s not an easy thing. Sometimes we have all the grace of a braying donkey or a stubborn mule. But even a stubborn mule has to learn to trust and obey.

Here’s some Good News for those struggling with Where He is calling: we know the general direction.

You may struggle to find the specific context, but Jesus came to “seek and save” that which was lost. We can do neither the seeking nor the saving…but we can “go and make disciples”. We go where He is. He is with the one who wandered off. He is with the lost coin. He is leaving the crowd to the next village. So our general direction is that way. That’s where He will always call you first.

Start there and follow Him. And when you get there, make a disciple by coming alongside of them, teaching them, and then helping them make a public proclamation of their decision. Crossing lines have to be celebrated - especially in a world where few others would celebrate such a thing. Don't worry, He'll be there even if you die in the process of following Him. He died too.

But then he rose again.

He determines EVERYTHING. If you live in your home town, be sure He has called you to your home town and live there joyfully reaching the lost. But be certain that is His voice. Remember: He cares more about His call than your comfort.

And that line isn’t movable.


It is your good deeds that connect you to eternal life. As a christian one must follow the teaching of Jesus. - Michael Courouleau

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Derek Webster is pastor of Radiate, a new church planting movement in Richmond, Virginia. Derek also works for a national think tank addressing major demographic trends.