Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Christian or Christ follower?

I do declare that the whole "I'm not a Christian; I'm a Christ follower" thing is lame-o. This will pass like so many other fads. We've been called "Christians" since New Testament times so it isn't going to change now. Sure, people have funny ideas about what a "Christian" is, but so what? You don't disown your family name because some members of your family do and say stupid things. It comes across to me as lacking in honest self reflection, not being willing to accept that the sins of the church are our sins - we as the whole Christian community have to live with who we are and what we have done, past, present and future. It's laughable to me that people say they don't want to use the word "Christian" because it might turn people off, when it's likely that saying "I'm a Christ follower" or "I'm a disciple of Jesus" is going to sound a whole lot weirder, like we are members of some kind of new cult or something. I know the motive is right (wanting to make it clear that the word "Christian" does not necessarily mean what you think it does) but a better way to avoid this misunderstanding is simply to live down the opposition, to overcome the objection to being "Christian" by living more like Christ. I wonder too if behind the statement there is sometimes the conceit that we are better Christians than those folks over there who call themselevs "Christian" but aren't really "disciples of Jesus" like we are. We are the "true" Christians and they are only the "nominal" ones. Again, it is better to stand in solidarity with the whole church and bear the shame and ignominy of bad Christian behaviour with grace and repentance than to "thank God that we are not like those sinners" who are supposedly "Christian" in name only.

2 comments:

Ross McPhee said...

Interesting post. Years ago at my church we had an open mic testimony time during our evening services. One of the congregation got up to share about his experiences of striking up a conversation with a Muslim he met in the street near Southgate in the city.

The conversation turned to spiritual things. Mainly because of the historical antipathy between Christians and Muslims, dating back to the Crusades, in sharing his faith, he described himself as a "Christ follower." Apparently this made him more receptive to what he had to say.

In this Muslim's way of thinking, Christians oppressed his forebears, so in the context of that conversation, meeting one who described himself as a "Christ follower" helped him to see that not all Christians, or those that claim to be Christians, are alike.

This man would normally call himself a Christian, and is a core member of his congregation, but in this context his motive was to show cross-cultural sensitivity towards the man he wanted to share his faith with.

Sing Chee said...

And let's not forget it takes longer and is requires slightly more effort to say "Christ follower" than it does "Christian"

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