I Am A Disciple-Or At Least Try To Be

Reading my Facebook stream trying to understand “Christian” would leave you puzzled. In fact, I bet that you could read your own Facebook stream of news and be puzzled.

Some whom you know to call themselves Christian seem like the most loving, gracious people. Some, on the other hand, seem to be disputatious, quarrelsome, judgmental, cynical, in other words, someone whom you would not really care to hang out with. Or—even to be labeled the same.

That has been a problem for many years.

For example, did you know that there was a preacher/politician named John Calhoun in the early 19th Century in America who wrote books “proving” that black people (the slaves at the time) were not really human beings. And he used the Bible to prove it.

Andy Stanley addresses this problem in his latest Your Move series. He points out that Jesus and his followers used a much more specific term—disciple. We know what a disciple is. The definition of Christian is open to debate. But a disciple is a follower of a teacher who tries to emulate everything about the teacher.

That is one reason I like to develop spiritual practices in my life and try to lead others to develop these practices. The correct spiritual practices help us try to become a true disciple of Jesus.

You know, Jesus, the one who told his disciples (John 13:34), “I give you a new commandment, to love one another.”

There are people who may self-identify as a “Christian” but who certainly do not appear to be living out Jesus’ last commandment.

So, I have preferred the term “follower” or the term “disciple” for most of the past 45 years. Like many, I shy away from describing myself as Christian.

Maybe if more of us followed this advice from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we wouldn’t be so ashamed of the term:

Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.

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