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A Heart For God: Christ Follower or Christian?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Christ Follower or Christian?

"'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'" (Mark 8:34b)

There's a lot of talk about being a "Christ follower" these days. "I'm a Christ follower," people say. (It used to be Christian.) I think with the change of jargon (not that I'm against it) has come a change of thinking on what it means to be a "Christ follower" (at least with some).

It's inevitable ~ that the understanding of "following Jesus" becomes watered down, candy-coated or substituted with something else that's not quite the Gospel and/or allows for fleshly indulgence. But faith was never meant to be measured by popular culture (over even by a preacher in the pulpit). The Bible is to be the measuring stick.

And according to Mark 8:34, to be a "Christ follower" (/Christian) requires a person to "deny himself," first of all. In other words, say "no" to your old lifestyle and sinful passions. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Secondly, it requires a person to "take up his cross." (Luke 9:23 adds "daily" to the command: "Take up his cross daily.") In other words, say "yes" to God's plan and purpose for your life. (Romans 6:13) (The "cross" is that God-ordained burden whereby others will receive relief by your carrying/submitting to it.)

And thirdly, to be a "Christ follower" (/Christian) requires a person to "follow Jesus." (John 21:19-22) Not Oprah. Not Barack Obama. Not Rick Warren ~ but Jesus. Christ needs to be upfront and center. The conclusion? A "Christ follower" who does these three things is a Christian, too (and vice versa).

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Blogger Joe Sewell said...

It's interesting. I first heard the term "Christ follower" because the term "Christian" has become so watered down.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Batman said...

Exactly. I see them as the same thing, and the unnecessary jargon change is confusing and misleading.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Forever Thankful said...

Great devotional! Have you heard of the following - check it out It is all about being a "follower" of Christ not a "fan". There are many "fans" out there, they like the idea of Jesus but they are unwilling to allow Jesus to be their Lord and take up His cross and follow Him and Him alone. Blessings!

6:11 AM  
Blogger James said...

I also haven't heard the term "Christ follower" before. I tend to call myself a "believer" rather than a Christian, in part, because I don't celebrate events like Christmas and Easter, which are automatically associated with the term "Christian".

I've spent some time on one of my blogs recently, examining the "labels" attached to the various groups who follow Christ or the Jewish Messiah, including "Messianic Judaism" and "One Law". There's an entire realm of faith systems that focus their devotion on Jesus but would technically not fall within the full definition of the term "Christian" least not the modern definition.

There's much to be said for what we're called relative to our faith and why. In the end, it's what's in a person's heart, which only God can know, that truly defines us. That said, we are known to other human beings by our fruit.


8:02 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Great article! I would add, too, that the Christian or Christ-follower is not following himself. Part of denying self means putting aside selfish desires and seeking the will of God first. These, surely, are marks of a true follower.

My "Trutheran" Christian Living" blog

8:11 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

After reading many religious groups who deny Jesus as God; ignore the Word as absolute truth yet claim Christianity; I felt follower of Christ Jesus was a better fit for me. Only God knows our hearts. No matter what we call ourselves, our life should bring honor to His name. We should look different, be set apart.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Nick of OZ said...

You don't need to openly deny Jesus to be outside of the truth, in Matth 7 verses 13-23 Jesus eternally makes a strong warning against the church which has the world in it. They use carnal means to swell the numbers but this is , in my mind the most frightening warning jesus ever uttered. The narrow gate with the narrow way & the wide gate with the wide way. The church that uses carnal means (entertainment & cheap grace) to attract people will be living, teaching a wrong understanding of Jesus. They teach religion which only brings death, the religious were threatened by the very message of Jesus. The religious never heard the message of God through Jesus that religion brought only deafness in their hearts. The only people that heard the voice of God through Jesus were the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the halt, the prostitutes & the DEAD. Religion will take you to hell only a relationship with Jesus will lead you/us to the narrow gate & life.
Jesus also warned anyone who enters by any other way other than the gate is a thief & a liar!

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Barbara Thayer said...

Good points in this devotion. I agree that we need to make certain how we are living. If we belong to Christ, our lives should be the best evidence. The term Christian was given to believers in Antioch. As I recall, it actually meant "little Christs"....those who reflect Him in their own lives. Thanks for your thoughts on this!

6:57 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Good thoughts. I don't think that the massive switch we are seeing to "Christ-follower" is just "jargon". I think it is an intentional move away from a word that has become synonamous with many seekers find offensive. (none of which are about Jesus, unfortunately.) Thanks for the post.

2:42 PM  
Blogger God's Rareblacpearl said...

The words Christ follower, Christian don't matter, what matters is if your up holding the law of God. When I'm out and about, people don't look at me and say she is a Christian or Christ follower, they say, there is a women who is undeniable a child of the most high God. The fact this is even a topic of discussion among the children of God concerns me greatly. I feel as children of the Most high God, as believers, as Christians, as Christ followers, we spend way to much time on the things that in the end won't add up to a hill of beans, when what we should be doing is using all of the extra energies in getting ourselves lined up with the word of God,so The Lords will be done in our lives and that The Holy spirit dwells within us, so we can be effective ministers and lead people to Christ.

3:21 AM  
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Blogger The Sibling Social said...

Thanks for this post. I'm just now hearing that believers are turning away from the title "Christian." One of my good friends refer to herself as an "Israelite" rather than a Christian. I'm not sure why it's so important these days to change our title that believers of old have been using to associate themselves with Christ for centuries. Why reinvent the wheel? What's the benefit?

1:36 PM  
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Blogger M. Scott Coffman said...

In a church I used to go to, "Christian" meant uptight, conservative Truthseeker, while "Christ Follower" meant shallow, soul-patch-sporting hipster. Since then, I have equated "Christ Follower" with people who want all the benefits of grace without the sacrifice of repentance. To me, a "Christian" is someone who is not afraid to suffer for the name that is above all names.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Jo Jo Jones said...

Great blog and replies.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too bad that Christianity has become Christianism, having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof.

Where is the power of the Gospel? The Gospel was supposed to be preached with signs, wonders and miracles following, not eloquent words of men!

The Church has lost it's relevance in the world today, I'm sorry to say, because for the most part, it tells people to find solutions to their needs in the World system!

7:11 PM  
Blogger Comanchesnooty said...

The problem I have found particularly in the Mormon belief is that their emphasis is to make the world believe they are "Christian." They are not Christian in the traditional understanding of the G_d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob and using a foundation of the Apostle's Creed. So many teachings that are contrary to traditional understanding. One being is that they firmly beleive that if you meet certain qualifications you can become a god yourself, etc. As a Catholic there understanding, teaching about Mary borders on blashemy and I can't understand how any Catholic leader could and did succumb to the candidate in this past election. Someone in either Protestant or Catholic traditions had best start to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Amy DeAnda said...

Never heard the term Christ-follower before, brings many things into light. Thank you!

8:08 AM  
Blogger Amy DeAnda said...

Never heard the term Christ-follower before, brings many things into light. Thank you!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Amy DeAnda said...

Never heard the term Christ-follower before, brings many things into light. Thank you!

8:09 AM  
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