What are you concerned with in your life? What drives you to get up each day? Who are you becoming? These questions shape our character, the essence of who we are. Over the past couple of weeks I have found myself among Christians, yet I’ve never been so frustrated or heartbroken. Call me naïve, but I used to think that Christians and followers of Jesus were one in the same. That illusion was shattered several years ago, but it has become magnified of late for me. Let me explain what I see as the difference.
A follower of Jesus is one who is passionately in love with Christ, the Son of God. They will go anywhere and do anything for Him. Their hearts are broken by the dependency of the widows and elderly, by the desperation of the single mother and by the hollow eyes of the homeless. Followers of Jesus show compassion and love to everyone they meet, doing so in the name of Jesus. They share the good news of Jesus whenever they have opportunity to do so. A true follower of Jesus is humble, thinks of others first and possesses impeccable integrity. People are drawn to them because of the light that shines from them, a light that is the very reflection of God. This is what a follower of Jesus looks like, because this is what Jesus looks like.
In contrast, a Christian appears to be one who prayed a magic prayer at some point in their life, probably went forward in a church service to proclaim their faith, and more than likely got baptized in some water. If they are a really good Christian, they then become involved in a ministry or two at their church and eventually teach a Sunday school class or become an usher. The really super Christians may even become deacons or elders in their church. Their speech, dress and attitude are always wonderful for an hour or two each Sunday. Catch them during the week, however, and you’ll find a different story. These types of people compartmentalize their life. One compartment is neatly packed with their Sunday life, while another compartment is stuffed and bursting at the seams with their lives outside of church. Even at church you will hear conversations of negativity, jealousy, rumor spreading and disenfranchisement. Ephesians 4:29 states that, “No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need.” In verse 31 of the same chapter we see that “All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness.” Does this sound like the folks at your church? My guess is that it does not because our Western churches are filled with Christians instead of followers of Jesus.
When I was younger, churches and towns had “revival meetings” every so often. For the uninitiated, these were generally week long meetings held in churches or tents where an out of town speaker would visit and bring a message of repentance. I must be honest, as a youngster I dreaded being dragged along to these meetings. The purpose of the meetings was to shake the local Christians awake, to remind them of their true calling, and I think, to scare the daylights out of those in attendance. Perhaps we need to start having these meetings again. Christians in our churches are in such a malaise that it’s about time that they were shaken awake and scared back to the reality of the seriousness of their choices. We need to rekindle the flame of passion for loving God and telling others about His love. We need to repent of the religion of Christianity and turn to a life of following Jesus.
Let’s kick the Christians out of our churches. Let’s not be afraid to see our numbers drop until all that’s left are true followers of Jesus. Just as He stated in Matthew 12:30, we are either for Him or against Him. A religious life of platitudes and bickering is not a life that is for Jesus. It’s not why He came, and it is not a life to which we’ve been called. These are the salt that has lost its savor; these are the lukewarm. Do everything you can to never fall into that lifestyle. Instead, renew your commitment to Jesus today; determine from this moment forward that you will follow Him wherever He goes, and that you will imitate whatever He does. God has no use for meaningless religion and neither should we. Repent, follow Jesus, love God and serve people. Surrender all that you are and become a true follower of Jesus.