What makes a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist...

What does it mean to be any of these?

There is a difference between saying (declaring) “I am Christian” and actually being Christian, and there is even a larger difference between what the teachings say and how different people interpret them.

For instance check this quote:

Courtesy of AZ Quotes 

No it does not! That does not make Christians!

Not even a "personal" relationship with Jesus and God makes you a Christian. Saying you are Christian does not make you Christian, celebrating Christian cultural events like Christmas and Easter does not make you Christian, believing in God does not make you Christian, going to church does not make you Christian, and praying to God does not make you Christian.
Only following the path of Christ makes you Christian.

Ok. But, what does the "following the path of Christ" mean?
In many religions and philosophies, murder has been considered morally wrong and indentified as a sin; suicide has been considered one of those sins that were unforgivable, and it is usually publically condemned.

On the other hand, self-sacrifice has been, through almost every culture, considered a heroic act, especially if someone sacrifices his or her own life saving others.

Being Christian means many things, but above all this: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25

What Christ is asking people to do is not for the faint-hearted. He is asking people to follow his non-violent path by loving others, give away your possessions, share with others, be kind and good to others, and, if needed, even give away your life — staying faithful to your beliefs to the end.

For those who truly believe, Christ is spreading the word of eternal life. Those who give their lives believe that they have not lost anything, as they will gain eternity, and this is a true test for a believer. A great majority is simply too afraid to walk that path.

Being Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. does not mean taking others’ lives but surrendering your own.

But, there is a dilemma: in a closed system, if you put a predator among the crowd of prey, the predator will destroy all of them. That is true, but it also means that predator will destroy himself in that same way. Advanced species, left only with predatory behaviour, will, without a doubt, lead to their own destruction. Therefore, the only option for long-term survival of the species is domestication and nonviolence.

Dr. Martin Luther King described this in his first book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” as six principles of nonviolence: *4

1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
It is active, nonviolent resistance to evil. It is aggressive spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.

3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people. The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil, not people.

4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.

5. Nonviolence chooses love, instead of hate.
Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit, as well as the body. Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish, and creative.

6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win. Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.

That being said, in Matthew 10:34, it is said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” The same sentence, in Luke 12:51, has been described as, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division”.

The often-misinterpreted line mentioning “sword” or “war” means an internal battle in our own minds. We all have to fight that battle on a daily basis, choosing between what is right or wrong. Choosing nonviolence is the most difficult and courageous choice one can make.

In Native American mythology, The Great Peacemaker, sometimes referred to as Deganawida, has united Five Indian nations by nonviolence and dialog. Legend says that, before the peace, there was a long-lasting war, where Five warring nations fell into a cycle of violence and revenge, threatening to destroy them all. Hatred was so strong that it had its own energy; no one even knew how the war began. The legends continue that, when the Peacemaker succeeded in gathering the chiefs of all other tribes on the shores of the lake Onondaga, the only one left was Tadodaho, an evil sorcerer. Tadodaho had extraordinary characteristics and was widely feared, being so powerful that no one could defeat him. But, regardless of his previous crimes, he was was persuaded to support the confederacy of the Five Nations. At the end, The Great Peacemaker, along with other chiefs, as the legend says, through uniting in song and discussion, succeeded in transforming Tadodaho back into human form. *1 *2 *3

I often write that we should, if we need to blame someone, focus on blaming the system, instead people. The system is just an idea, and changing ideas is much easier than people, and, if we really need to blame people, we should try blaming their ideas, instead of their characters. When we blame character, we are saying that they, as “persons,” are responsible, and there is nothing they can do to change what they have done — therefore cursing them to repeat the same doings all over again.

Instead, if we say that a set of the person’s ideas was wrong, between the lines, we are also saying that there is room to change all those ideas and wrongdoings for all future deeds.

That is probably the reason why it is said that there is no special merit in loving those who love us, as it is a natural response. Loving those who do not like us or even hate us is an extremely difficult thing to do.

If you can do all that, my brother, then — and only then — as Rudyard Kipling said in his poem “If,” — “You’ll be a Man, my son!” *5 Or, people could call you Christian, Muslim, Buddhist.... Furthermore, if anyone ever asks you to declare which of those you are, try to answer, “I am trying to be....”

Notes & References:

1. The Peacemaker & the Tadadaho


2. Tadodaho


3. Great Peacemaker


4. Triple Evils. Six Principles Of Nonviolence. Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change(!) The Beloved Community


5. Rudyard Kipling : IF