God

I Don’t Want To Be A Christian

So you call yourself a Christian. What does that mean?

What is a Christian? Can you define what one is? Can you define what you are? If someone walked up to you on the street and asked you why you think you are a Christian, what would you tell them?

If you Google “Christian” you’ll get more than 25 million hits and enough definitions to fill a dumpster.

We must have plenty of Christians though. Despite a cargo ship of definitions of what a Christian is, according to a 2009 Gallup poll 78% of the U.S. population says they are Christians. According to a 2010 Gallup poll 43.1% of Americans report, “weekly or almost weekly church attendance.”

Some Catholics I know say they’re Christians. Some who believe in abortion claim to be Christians. A few folks who call themselves Christians believe you can lose your salvation. Other denominations believe they are the only ones going to heaven. Some denominations believe you have to be baptized to be a Christian. They believe if you’re not baptized you’re not saved, ergo you’re going to hell. Some homosexuals call themselves Christians. Some folks who call themselves Christians believe it’s a sin to hold worship with an orchestra or band. Some folks who call themselves Christians believe the only true Scriptural truth is in the New Testament and the Old Testament is irrelevant.

We Christians are all over the board when we try to define who and what we are.

Here’s a definition for you:

“Christians are  judgmental, homophobic moralists who think they are the only ones going to heaven and secretly relish that everyone else is going to hell.”¹

Does that describe you? Or a friend? Or maybe it describes someone you know who hates Christians.

We could go to the Bible for some help defining what a Christian is. That presents a problem, though, because the word Christian appears only three times in the Bible (KJV)†

The Gentiles and Jews who followed Jesus and believed His teaching did not call themselves Christians. In fact the ones who used “Christians” to describe Jesus’ followers used the word to insult or demean Jesus’  followers. The ones outside looking in were the ones who called them Christians.

Let’s see if God’s word can help. In Matthew 28:19 does God’s word say, “Therefore go and make Christians of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?”

Not in my Bible.  My Bible says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” NASB

In John  13:34-35 does God’s word say, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are Christians, if you love one another.”?

Not in my Bible.  My Bible says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NASB

Now there’s a word we can get our arms around–disciple. Nice uncomplicated definition too: “One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another (In our case, Jesus). A follower, a pupil, an adherent, a learner.”  According to the OED the word disciple comes from the Latin word, discere “to learn”.

Now that’s what I’d like to be called, “a disciple.” Remember John 13:35? Jesus teaches us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Love one another. If we love one another we are true disciples of Jesus. “Love one another” skirts every single complicated nuance about what it means to be a Christian.

But, my neighbor throws his garbage in my yard. . . .Love one another.
But, my boss hates Christians . . .Love one another.
But, I caught my husband in bed with another woman . . .Love one another.
But she physically abuses her children . . .Love one another.
But my nephew owes me a thousand dollars and he won’t pay me back. . .Love one another.
But they broke into our home and stole all our money. . .Love one another.
But she’s an atheist and ridicules me constantly. . .Love one another.
But our son is on drugs and steals to support his habit. . .Love one another.
But my marriage is falling apart . . .Love one another.

We show how much we love Jesus when we love one another.
We preach better sermons than our pastor when we love one another.
We witness to non-believers when we love one another.
We develop brothers and sisters in Christ when we love one another.
We show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples when we love one another.

Yeah, I think I want to be a disciple.

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A video message by Senior Pastor Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church; Atlanta, Georgia inspired this blog message.
¹From Andy Stanley's Palm Sunday message, "Christian" at North Point Community Church, Atlanta, Georgia, April 1, 2012
†Note: Other legitimate versions, e.g. NAS, NIV, ASV, contain seven references to "Christian".

23 thoughts on “I Don’t Want To Be A Christian

  1. Dear Steven,
    I found your post through a friend on FaceBook (gotta love that social networking!). I have to say that I was intrigued by the title of this blog. I frequently feel embarrassed by other Christian’s antics here in America (e.g. “God Hates Fags”) and don’t want to be associated with that type of religiosity. I like the idea of being called a “disciple of Christ”. The idea of being a disciple, to me, gives a deeper and fuller meaning to this journey I am currently on. I LIKE IT! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Stephanie

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    1. Stephanie, Thank you so much for your comments and encouragement. When I saw this video, I was immediately reluctant to call myself a Christian any more. The pastor is continuing his video series on “Christian” so I hope I’m inspired to write some more on this topic. I hope you’ll be encouraged to return. You bless me more than I can say.

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    1. Scott, thank you so much for the link. And thank you for the encouraging comments. I want to make sure I don’t miss one message in Andy’s “Christian” series. This first message blew me away. I hope I gave him adequate attribution as the inspiration for my blog. I want to make sure when a message I read inspires me that I give proper credit for the source of the message.

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  2. Dearest Brother Steven, once again I have already commented on this wonder post celebrating true discipleship over at Christian Blessings. I LOVE being a disciple rather than a statistical “Christian”.

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  3. Love this! To be honest, in the last few years I’ve distanced myself from the word Christian & been using the words Disciple & Believer almost exclusively to describe those who earnestly follow Jesus.

    Very, very insightful post!

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  4. What perfect timing. I was just reading this morning in Acts 11. Verse 26 said, “and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

    The disciples were called Christians. A Christian is a disciple of Jesus.
    Thanks for the message:) Blessings!

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  5. This sure got me thinking…how easy it is to live stuck behind a ‘label’…to say “I’m a Christian” but to miss the boat entirely! I pray God empowers me to more closely follow Him and to be a disciple…and to love as He loved. Thanks so much for this challenging message!

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    1. Susan, thank you for your thoughtful comments. You’re so right. The idea is to follow Him and love as He loved. I think Jesus would want us to rid ourselves of all our labels, including “christian” as well as all the denominations, and we just love like He loved. Thanks again.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Pat. And thanks so much for your kind words and comment. Your response blesses me and validates why I write my blog. God touches others through what He gives me to write. He is such a great writer! Thank you again.

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      1. Hi Steven; you are so very welcome and I thank you for your kindness… Yes God is a great writer especially when we are led of His spirit… Thank you Brother Keep up the good work… Blessings.. Bro Pat.

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  6. I have come to have a problem with the terminology Christian, because everyone seems to want to claim it’s title. The Jehovah Witness like to use it; the Mormons love to use it, and some darn nice people who deny Christ like to think they are. They might well be but their fruit does not show it. One of them loves to fight with me over religion and attitudes.
    You hit another nerve in me.
    Later brother,
    Ozzie

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    1. Ozzie,
      Thanks for your comments. I’ve had several people who claim to be Christians attempt to discuss “religion” or “theology” with me. I avoid those folks like the plague. They might be Christians (whatever that means), but all I have to share with anybody is what Jesus Christ has done in and through my life. No religion or theology for me. Thanks again for your comments and I could not agree with you more. God bless.

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