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What does the word "Christian" mean to you? Does it bring positive or negative thoughts to mind? If someone asks if you are a Christian, what will you say? Do you have to define what it means before you answer “yes” or “no?” I sure feel like I need to. Whether you spend a lot of time with Christians or don't know any, you most likely have some idea of what Christianity represents. From Justin Bieber to Mother Theresa, the type of people who have called themselves Christians is diverse. The best and worst sides of history have stood behind Christianity. What if we forget all those examples? How do we determine what a Christian is?
The Bible does not define the word "Christian." The term was developed by observers to describe followers of Jesus as "little Christs." In time, it became the name for anyone who believes in the Bible and the resurrection of Jesus. Across the world, there are all kinds of people who call themselves Christians. It is used both to proclaim faith and to defend agendas. Faith goes hand in hand with identity, and often identity is what leads.
I've met many different types of Christians throughout my life. A few of them are people I look up to because they act with love and make an effort to follow Jesus. But too many of the Christians I've met are people who use the title like a category or a license to judge. For some, it's like a sticker on their car that says something about them, but they forget it's there. For others, it's a billboard that they use to tell people what to do without any sign that they care. I have called myself a Christian my whole life and know I have done all the above at some point. I've looked at the people around me and thought, "do I still want to call myself a Christian?" The truth is, Christian culture can be a turn-off because it often appears centered on specific agendas rather than living like Jesus. How would we change if we focused less on what we call ourselves and more on how Jesus wants us to live? He did not call for Christians, He called for disciples.
A disciple is a person who follows a teacher with discipline and imitation. The Bible defines "disciple" through the words and examples of Jesus. Discipleship is not about telling people what we are; it's about showing people who we follow. Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
A great place to learn how to be a disciple is in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Through the Gospels, (the fancy title for the story of Jesus' life) we can learn how to love people and reflect the grace that makes us whole. It takes dedication to live like Jesus, but He knows we are not perfect, and He is there to lift us up.
As a disciple, I like to think of myself as an adventurer for Jesus. We are called to go out into the world and reach new people.
"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation." - Mark 16:15
With God as my guide, I'm ready to grab my Hydro Flask and my toughest walking shoes and head out on a mission. Jesus met all kinds of people who He offered His love, no matter who they were, what they did, or what was done to them. He built relationships founded on grace. You have a unique path that starts when you ask yourself, "what would Jesus do if He were you?" When we are disciples, we live out God's intention for what a Christian is.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.