Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5 comments

What is a pagan? The word itself comes from the Latin paganus, which literally means “peasant.” In my research for this blog post, I’ve seen multiple definitions for the English word pagan. These definitions go from simply a person who has little or no religion, to one who is not a Christian and does not worship God, to a follower of a religion with many gods.

Since there are slight differences in the definition from various dictionary sources, what does the Bible say about pagan? In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives us descriptions of pagans based on their actions. Click the links to read the following verses and note the contradiction between those who follow Christ and those who are pagans:

Matthew 5:45-47
Matthew 6:6-8
Matthew 6:31-33
Matthew 18:15-17

In these passages, we see the differences between pagans and Christ followers. Pagans love those who love them; Christ followers are called to love everyone. Pagans keep babbling on with empty words in their prayers to their gods; Christ followers pray from the heart. Pagans worry about everything; Christ followers don’t have to. Pagans are described by their actions.

So what is a pagan? Based on these passages from Jesus’ teachings, a pagan is a person who does not follow God based on their actions. Actions are key in determining, as best as we can, what a person believes. We read in James 2:18-20, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”

If a person acts like a pagan, then they believe like a pagan - they don’t believe in the one true God, and they are not following Christ. We all make mistakes and don’t act perfectly like we should, and we all sometimes mess up and act more like a pagan than a Christ follower. But that’s where God’s grace comes in! God has grace for both followers of Christ and those who are still pagans.

I challenge you to strive to live your life so that your actions show more like a Christ follower and less like a pagan!


Anonymous said...

Love this! Thanks.

Jane said...

Great explanation. And I love the challenge to live more like a Christ-follower than like a pagan. We can choose our actions. I pray that my actions reflect the better choice.

Anonymous said...

So if you are not following the dictates of the church, you are a pagan?

JD70 said...

Anonymous at 7:01: I find it interesting that you used the word "church". Near as I can tell Katie never used that word in her writing. Maybe I missed it. I do see the phrase "Christ follower though. Katie, why did you do that?

Katie said...

As Jason (JD70) pointed out, I used the words "Christ follower" instead of the word "church." We need to follow Jesus Christ's example in our lives and live by the guidelines He sets forth in the Bible. Ideally this would align perfectly with what the church teaches, but unfortunately we live in a sinful world where this does not always happen. We need to be careful to examine all teaching against God's Word.

Not following the "dictates of the church" as you say does not necessarily make one a pagan, again because the church's teaching may or may not align perfectly with God's Word. But, not following the teaching of Christ as explained in the Bible (to the best of our ability) does.