What’s In a Name?

You may wonder about the term “Christ-follower”. Why don’t I just identify myself as a “Christian”? You may believe it’s just semantics or the fad of the day…sure, there may be some of that. But, for me, there’s a more specific reason. If I’m going to identify myself with a label – I would at least like it to be definable…to me, if someone says they’re a Christian it only muddies the waters, there’s little clarity there. Somewhere around 90% of Americans consider themselves to be Christian! But why “Christ-follower”? Well, for me it’s much more self-explanatory. It’s not about what I SAY I am, but what I choose to do. It’s not just a label, but a lifestyle.

After 30 plus years of identifying myself as a Christian, I began to realize that I was allowing myself to be defined by a term that had lost any real meaning. This has become particularly important to me especially in the last year or so. Aside from desiring to be more specific in what I am, I also desire to distance myself from what I am not. Beyond the ambiguity of those who randomly call themselves christian, many times, I’ve felt a growing need to separate myself from those who consider themselves to be “Leading Christians”.

Just a few observations which have led me to this conclusion:

*It seems that the longer someone uses a label, the more they become proud of the label itself rather than the reason for it (“Don’t tell me! I’ve been a Christian longer than you’ve been alive…”). Contrast this with a new believer who is so grateful for the rescuing love and grace of God.

*How come Christians from Christian organizations – much of the time, complain the loudest and rebel the most when their church environment is changed – to reach the lost, no less!? This has been so profound @ C3 that I believe we should ask a few specific questions when considering someone for C3 church membership, like: “Would you consider yourself to be a Christian ‘leader’?” or “How long have you worked in that missions organization that evangelizes on the other side of the world?…Oh, 15 years, you say?” and then when they give their glowing resume of how they will do “whatever it takes” to reach lost people-groups (as long as it doesn’t affect their home turf), we should go ahead and hand them a list of other local churches which would make them FEEL more comfortable.

*Following Christ means to follow, not to be led by my own selfish desires. Desires which can lead us to say things like: “This is MY church, and the lost don’t pay the bills!“, or “I want everyone to go to heaven, I just don’t want to go to church with all of them.” or “That pastor is destroying lives, I mean, have you SEEN the kind of people who go to that church?!”…I could go on and on. If these attitudes are how you would define a Christian, then please continue to label yourself one – at least you’ll stay in the majority!

So, for me “Christ-follower” is the flag I’ll fly – not because I’ve arrived, but because it’s what I desire to do: to follow Christ. Many times, it’s following way, way behind – but I’m following nonetheless. And I’m okay with others knowing my intentions – it keeps me accountable and focused on the only One who can truly show me which way to go. Peace.

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