Sources: Christian, parts 1-8, by Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church; multiplymovement.com; Weird: Because Normal isn't Working by Craig Groeschel; biblegateway.com; dictionary.com
I am a Christian.
Ever since I went to the front of the church and asked Jesus Christ to come into my life at the age of 6, I have been a Christian.
Until recently, I thought Christian was what I was supposed to be after that life-changing walk to the altar.
The last couple months have been filled with books, videos, conversations, classes and meditations that have made me rethink who/what I am supposed to be.
I believe in Jesus and I am confident His Spirit lives in me. So, what else would you call that besides Christian?
The problem, for me, is that Jesus never asked anyone to become a Christian. He asked people to follow Him, to become His disciples.
According to Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, in his sermon series Christian, the word DISCIPLE is terrifying because it calls us to actually DO something. A disciple is someone who actively follows, listens to, learns from, obeys and emulates another person.
Most people, including me, use the word Christian to describe someone's beliefs. As long as you believe in Jesus, you can call yourself a Christian. You don't actually have to DO anything, other than believe. In fact, you can do the opposite of what Jesus asked you to do and still call yourself a Christian because, after all, you believe in Him.
I'm tired of being a Christian. In fact, I don't want to do it anymore. I want out. I'm done!
I want to be a DISCIPLE. I want my actions to show who/what I am. And Andy Stanley is right, it's terrifying. It's terrifying because I know my actions don't always qualify me as a disciple. One of the worst things about being a disciple, and the thing that keeps many people from even considering becoming one, is hypocrisy. If we call ourselves disciples of Jesus, then go out and behave differently, we are hypocrites. If we ask someone else to become a disciple and do what a disciple does, but don't live it out ourselves, we are hypocrites. So, yeah, it's scary.
But, again, Jesus never sought Christians. He wanted disciples. Even the original disciples - the 12 who left their normal lives to follow Jesus while He was on earth - weren't perfect. They made mistakes. They were hypocritical. They disappointed Jesus.
Before he left the earth, Jesus gave his disciples what we know as the Great Commission. Do you know what He commissioned them to do?
There's nothing in there about Christians. Jesus told them to make DISCIPLES!
The first step to becoming a disciple is allowing Jesus to have your whole life, but it doesn't end there. I don't know how people can think belief is enough. It's a step, but it's not the end. Being a disciple requires more.
Love is the way people will know we are disciples. If we love each other the way Jesus loved those He spent time with, we won't have to tell people we are disciples, they will either know it or will ask us why we do the things we do.
So, how did Jesus love? That's a complicated answer, but the phrase "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) seems to sum it up pretty well. Jesus served, healed, demanded obedience, called out sin, forgave, protected, listened, fed and taught.
Jesus put loving others right up there with loving God:
This is where it gets terrifying all over again because how can you possibly love someone else like you love yourself? Especially someone who isn't easy to love at all?
The only way to love like Jesus loved is to do what Jesus did. The only way to do what Jesus did is to read His story and try to emulate Him ... After all, that's what a DISCIPLE does!