I Am Not A Christian
I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN.
What? Are you kidding? Why would you say such a thing?
I grew up going to church my whole life. I gave my life to Jesus at a very young age, and have rededicated my life more times than I can count. I was baptized in Lake Michigan in October at the age of 5 (BRRRRRR), and then again in 2013 in the Jordan River in Israel. I have attended all different manners of churches – loud, screamy churches, quiet, boring churches, churches with super-long services, churches where you blink and they’re done, and everywhere in between.
I went to Bible college for 3 years and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical studies – each week of that time attending 4 chapel services and attending 2 church services.
I have heard so many sermons… experienced so many times in musical worship, sat under so many different kinds of Biblical teaching, I have been bored and excited. And there are many of us “believers” that have lived this life.
There is a very simple idea that has become a very STRONG idea in my heart and mind, and I embrace this thing with all my strength and I will not let go. It’s this word, “Christian”. In my world, this word is used to describe things… “Christian Radio”, “Christian Music”, “Christian Education”, “Christian TV”, “Christian Movies”, “Christian School”, “Christian Business”, etc. But there is a really big problem with all of this.
“CHRISTIAN” is NOT an adjective. It’s a noun. And I am not splitting hairs here. A TV doesn’t get saved, a school does not pray the “sinner’s prayer”. Why do we take something that is a normal part of the world (TV, movies, schools…) and slap the term “Christian” in front of it, then promote it as an “alternative” to the world? Why do we use this term to describe a version of something in the world, except without all the cussing and sex? I personally do not want to describe anything I do or support as “Christian” because the word is not a descriptive word. It is what a PERSON IS, NOT WHAT THEY ARE LIKE. It’s a noun. Not an adjective. It’s also the title of a major world religion. And I do not believe for a second that Jesus came to establish a major world religion to compete with other religions. We’re all just salesmen then. (“Hey, don’t buy our competitor’s product, it sucks… buy OURS, we offer a much better deal!”)
But here is an even deeper issue I take with this term. Jesus (the central figure and author of our faith) NEVER CALLED HIS FOLLOWERS “Christians”. The term was invented and used by people who were NOT followers of Jesus to describe (in a mocking way) those who were. Those that WERE Jesus' followers were living such lives that those who weren't were calling them "little Christs". Maybe they wore that mocking with pride. But it isn't so these days. What a “Christian” is supposed to be is not defined at all in the New Testament. This is why you can find “Christians” on every side of every political and social issue and on all points in the political spectrum. And every one of them can find Bible verses to support their stances and beliefs.
No, Jesus used a different term. He used the term, “Disciple”. A Disciple is a close follower. A Disciple is a person who says, “where you go, I will go, where you stop, I will stop. What you tell me to say, I will say, and I will shut up when you want. I will live to the best of my ability how you live. I will carry out my life by your example, and I will not be in charge of myself. MY life is surrendered to your will.” THAT is what I want to be. NOT a “Christian”… a DISCIPLE. See, there are millions and millions of people in the USA who would call themselves “Christians”, but you cannot convince me that they are all Disciples. Being a Disciple IS defined in the New Testament – how we should live, what we should and should not do and say, how we are to approach the world, and how we are to treat each other. And it’s a whole lot more difficult and is a much deeper commitment to be a Disciple than it is to be a “Christian”. I can call myself a “Christian” and still remain in charge of my life. Everything in the world is subject to MY judgment. But I cannot live that way and be a Disciple. As a Disciple, I lay down my rights, dreams, and desires, and surrender them all to the authority of Jesus who is the Christ (“Christ” isn’t a proper name either, but that’s for another time…) The Gospel Writer Mark recorded this… “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.’ ” -Mark 8:34-35 (NIV)
So, I am not a Christian. I do not want to call myself one. I want to be a Disciple. I want to follow Jesus.