Sometimes I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall. I hang out with people who profess to be followers of Jesus, only to find out they are merely Christians. As Andy Stanley pointed out in a recent message, Christ -followers in the first century did not refer to themselves as Christians; they called each other disciples. There’s a huge gap between those two words. A Christian is someone who, to some degree or another, believes in Jesus. A disciple is one who doggedly pursues and obeys Christ, one who asserts He is the Lord of their life, and actually lives like they mean it. Which word better describes you?
If you’re new to all this, there’s no shame in starting out with a simple belief in Jesus. But to truly be His follower is going to take a lot more than believing He is who He said He was. It’s about the attitude of your heart. It’s about the actions of your hands and feet. You could never earn your way into God’s presence. This can only be accomplished by the gift of grace and forgiveness of your sin on the cross of Jesus. Remember, Jesus died for all, but not everyone will spend eternity with Him (Romans 5:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 7:21-23).
What’s the differentiating factor? What separates those who believe from those who follow? It begins with a devastating understanding of exactly what Christ endured on our behalf. Recognizing what He gave up on our behalf is humbling like nothing else. It becomes obvious that we have no choice other than to spend the rest of our days in His service. Furthering His mission becomes the entire focus of our lives. Selfishness, jealousy, and greed go out the window. We become servants to everyone else, ecstatic over the successes of others, and content with whatever we have.
Looking like Jesus is not easy but it is simple. We have complicated matters by compromising and blending in with society. Our lives are wrapped up in the same things as those of our neighbors. We want the nice car, the good job, the big house, and the 2.5 kids. We want to fit in, to belong. And we try to do all of this while maintaining our identity as a “Christian”. It simply does not and cannot work this way. Following Jesus is about being different from our culture, looking weird to all those around us. We aren’t different for the sake of being different, but rather because we love and serve unconditionally. The world just doesn’t get people like that.
My greatest desire is to become the person God created me to be. I want to pour out every last ounce of strength in service to the mission of Jesus Christ. I want to love, serve, and be used in every way possible; not so people will be impressed by what I do, but that God might be glorified and others would be drawn to Him. I want to reflect the light of His love so brightly that it cannot be ignored. I want to be ruined by the unstoppable love and grace of God. The world doesn’t need another Christian. It needs followers of Jesus who will stop at nothing to reach into the darkness and pull the sick, the hurting, and the hopeless into the brilliant light and hope of Jesus. I don’t want to be a Christian; I want to be a disciple.