Recently I listened to a an eight part sermon series by Andy Stanley called “Christian: It’s Not What You Think”. It is one of those series that you find yourself stopping and rewinding, writing down notes as fast as you can, and that leaves your mind asking, “Am I a disciple, or am I just a Christian?”
I will not make an attempt to summarize the whole series, but I highly recommend it, yes, all eight sermons. They are phenomenal and very convicting. However, here are a few highlights and some of my a-ha moments:
- The term “Christian” is not defined in the Bible.
- The term “Christian” only appears three times in the Bible.
- The term “Christian” was a derogatory term that people outside the Jesus community used to describe the Jesus community.
- Followers of “the Way” – followers of Jesus – referred to themselves disciples.
disciple- any follower of Christ; a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower (from Dictionary.com)
There are many characteristics that a person might use to define me as a Christian. Well, she’s kind, honest, follows the law, goes to church, reads her Bible, prays, writes about Jesus, celebrates Christmas, wears a cross, has scripture verses in her house. The list goes on.
But what is used to define me as a Disciple of Jesus?
Jesus says only one thing.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Loving people does not come easy to me. I’m just being honest. And loving people like Jesus loves them is even more inconceivable.
Every few days I go into the grocery store and want to scream at the top of my lungs, “Get out of my way!” I don’t like talking to the cashier. I can barely smile at the man in the deli. The child running around me is not cute.
Then I go to dinner with a friend. And I gossip. I slander someone I love’s name. Or I complain about my husband. Then go home and yell at him about it.
There’s also the judgement. Yes, I judge others. Most of the time in my head, but there’s no telling how much of it comes across in my face or my posture or my tone of voice.
It’s easy to be labeled a Christian. It’s hard to be known as a follower of Christ. (<–Tweet This!)
Many people in the world are labeled as Christians. God does not need any more checks in boxes with the word “Christian” out beside them. Instead He needs followers – people who love like He loves – so that others see Him through us, here on earth, and are drawn to Him (Matthew 28:18).
Often I forget that this is not a choice that He gives me. He does not say, “Try to love others like I have loved them.” He says that this is how I will be known as His follower - this and only this – so I must love others.
Are you a disciple or are you just a Christian? What are your thoughts? And if you’re neither, what is your perception of those who call themselves Christians?
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