Follower

For some reason, as I look back over my life, I don’t think I have ever been a follower.  When I was much, much younger, if the trend was cuffs, I would wear straight legs.  When Brylcreem was in, I was a dry head.  I did all of this intentionally, and for reasons that escape me, I have always been sort of a contrarian.  I never seemed to want or need acceptance by falling in line behind the current Pied Piper.  Maybe I relished the attention of being different even though my different was not outlandish, just not mainstream.  Even now I will scrupulously avoid popular phrases or terms that are “in.”  The only thing I can’t seem to shake is “cool.”  Weird, huh?

 My contrarian impulses end though when it comes to the Christian life and the Bible.  In almost everything Christian, I want to be a follower.  Ever since becoming a Christian as a young man, I have desired to conform to the image of Christ.  Not simply to follow Jesus, however, but to be driven, taught and convicted by the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus.  In this life, you and I will fall short of that goal, that is, until our glorification, at which time we shall be like Him.

This brings me to my main point.  There is much being written today about changing our name from “Christian,” to either “Follower of Jesus,” or “Christ Follower.”  Those who favor the change claim that the designation “Christian” has fallen into disrepute.  The argument is that there has been such travesty, hypocrisy and other despicable acts associated with Christians that the name is a turn-off to outsiders, and consequently makes it difficult to gain a hearing, or to be taken seriously.  If we want to minister to the younger generation we must distance ourselves from the label “Christian,” they say.

It is difficult to argue against that premise entirely, especially when it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between the behavior of so-called Christians and anyone else.  In just about every measure, research shows that “Christians” are not seen as being any different than the world.  That has always been true in the past for a small minority, but now it seems to be astonishingly widespread.  And while the new name designations no doubt began innocently enough and used on occasion, they have been appropriated as the only designation of the emergent church, which deplores the name “Christian,” and, they believe, with good reason.

The Emergent church denies the core beliefs of Christianity.  They reject the substitutional atonement of Jesus’ death on the cross; original sin; hell and heaven; Jesus being the only way to God; the coming judgment; the return of Christ; the book of Revelation as future prophecy, and more.  It is breathtaking the degree of heresy of which they are promulgators.  The 2000-year identity of believers called “Christians” represents everything they find reprehensible.  So what do they do to try and remain affiliated and yet be true to their non-belief?

For them it is simple.  They become either “Followers of Jesus,” or “Christ Followers.”  And though for the uninformed it sounds sort of the same as “Christian” but more “hip,” the Emergents believe that a break with traditional Christianity means that a name change is a must.  Jesus becomes a role model to follow, not the only Savior of the world.  The following quote from “Richard,” (blog comment) is representative of Emergent beliefs:  “I am not a Christian.  I do not believe in the resurrection, the trinity, casting out demons, cursing fig trees or feeding 5000, etc.  I do believe in the way Jesus told us to live, and I do try to follow his example.  So while the idea of being a Christian does not appeal to me, being a Jesus follower does.”  He goes on to say that while he also is a follower of Buddha, he is not a Buddhist.

As evidenced by Richard’s explanation, for those who know, there is a big difference between a Christian, and a Christ-Follower.  One, who is a born-again Christian, will obviously be a Christ-follower.  One who is a Christ-Follower only, such as Richard, will not be a Christian.  Jesus Christ is not just a role model to follow, as the Emergents believe, but is the Savior of those who believe they are blood-bought by His sacrifice on the cross, and thus being redeemed, are called Christians; taken from the Bible and confirmed with 2000 years of usage.

Christian Apologist Chris Rosebrough studied a variety of sermons from large churches across America for two years.  He claims these are representative of teachings from what he calls “seeker-driven and purpose-driven churches, but would apply as well to Emergents, Unitarians, Muslims, practicing Jews, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.  He explains:

Christ-Follower: Someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a ‘no regrets’ life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, is as attentive parent, is celebrating recovery from all his hurts, habits and hang ups, practices Biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off the gross and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation.”

He goes on to say that based on this summary the world is filled with people who would fit this definition but who have never repented and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins.  I don’t believe that everyone in those camps fit this description, but there is a reason why many Christian writers are sounding these alarms.  Anyone willing to investigate will find criticism widespread.

So, I am proud to wear the name Christian.  It indicates that I belong to Christ.  If I chose (no reason to) to add an additional designation it might be “Christ-Carrier” as the writer Donna Partow states.  Born again Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit and defenders of the faith.  Bearing the name “Christian” will never win a popularity contest with the world.  Jesus was clear in Matt. 10:22 that we would be hated by all men.  And the final comment is found in I Peter 4:16, “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”  Couldn’t be clearer.   Praise God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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