Christian. A very descriptive word within itself. It can stand alone on it’s on merits and paints a picture in the mind that varies from person to person. But, what does it mean? Who does it describe? Is it an accurate word to describe those who use it?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a Christian as “one who professes belief in Jesus as Christ and follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus; one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.” Sounds pretty reasonable and correct. That is if you want a dictionary version. Don’t get me wrong, this is a definition that many Christians would work around to eventually and mutter robotically if they had to verbalize their faith.
With what is happening to real Christians around the world being killed systematically for their faith, I am having a problem calling myself a real Christian. I am having a hard time using the term that thousands are losing their lives for. I am ashamed of the way I have taken for granted the honor of being called a follower of the most high King. I am no longer calling myself a Christian. I am abandoning the label that was used only once in scriptures. I know, I am a heretic! The label that couple of billion of us use has been misused and honestly it has lost it’s meaning. Anyone it seems calls themselves a Christian if they attend church once or twice a year, watch a religious program, do a good deed or otherwise are related to someone who really is a khristianos – the anointed.
What Jesus did say was, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” These words don’t quite line up with the go to church twice a year or “do gooder” philosophy of being a Christian. Or how about this one, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Maybe it would help to know that the definition for the Greek word for hate “miseo” is different than our meaning of hate. We see hate as despising or opposing. For us, hate is a strong emotion, one we like to teach our children not to use or express. But this expression for the Greek Jews meant to turn away from, to detach oneself. How many people really want to use the above scriptural references to refer to themselves as Christians.
I am a follower of Jesus. One of his disciples. Am I perfect? No, but I seek to be a student learning from the master. I want to walk with the one who died for me and I am willing to die for him.
I want to challenge you to turn the establishment upside down and start referring to yourself as a follower of Jesus, his disciple, a believer. People will look at you as if you are crazy. You will be different! That’s how it was in Antioch when followers were first called Christians. They were different, outcasts, not normal. That’s how I want to be looked at. How about you?