Don't Be a Christian, Be a Follower of Christ

Religion Bites. Jesus Rules. I want more Jesus, and less religion.

July 22, 2006

Jesus loves messed up people

I've heard it said that you can often tell what kind of person someone is by the company they keep. If they hang out with druggies, they're probably a druggie. If they hang out with shoplifters, they're probably a shoplifter. I guess that goes for preppies and wannabees too...

But I'm not sure that's true, at least it wasn't for Jesus. He really enjoyed hanging out with thieves, and con artists, and prostitutes. But he never stole anything, or swindled anyone, or slept with a prostitute. He spent his time with messed up people because he loved them.

Of course, that pissed off the religious leaders, who accused Jesus of being like the people he hung out with. When I read that about the religious people, and I think about all the times I have seen "Christian" people look down on other people. But if Christians were following Jesus, if they were trying to be like him, then they would be hanging out with people instead of looking down on them.

And besides, we're all dirty under the microscope.

And those religious people just loved to criticize Jesus. They wanted to know why he spent his time with "those sinners." And he told those religious people that "sick people need a doctor, not people who are well." He basically says, "I came to help messed up people, those who are honest enough to know they are not perfect and need my help."

Followers of Jesus spend time with broken down, messed up people. They don't look down on other people, because followers of Jesus are honest about their own faults. They help those who know they need help, and they love the unlovable.

July 21, 2006

followers of Jesus are honest, humble

Jesus said, "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." (Matthew 5:1, NLT)

One of greatest things about Jesus is how he thinks so differently than everyone else. He doesn't tell people what they want to hear. He gives them the honest truth. I like that - I am tired of people trying to sell me something by telling me what I want to hear. Jesus doesn't do that.

The honest truth is, if you are a follower of Christ, you'll be humble. Followers of Christ recognize their need for God. They know that they aren't perfect and they need help to make things better. If you want to participate with God, if you want to follow Jesus, then you will have to get honest about your faults. Nobody's perfect.

How many of you have come across "Christian" people who could never admit they were wrong? They probably acted like they had all the answers, as if they were perfect and you were "less than." If we listen to Jesus, he says that people like that are probably not his followers. They are more likely to be religious hypocrites than authentic followers of Christ. Unfortunately, there are too many people who wear the badge of "Christian" but do not follow the teachings of Jesus.

Followers of Christ are honest about their weaknesses. They do not consider themselves better than other people. They recognize their need for God's help. Are you a follower?

Why Be a Christian If You'd Turn Out Like Other Christians?

The word "Christian" means different things to different people. To some, it means that you go to church, read the Bible, that kind of thing. To others, it means an intolerant type of person who looks down on other people and tells them how to live. I guess I think of some pretty negative things when I hear the word "Christian." And I am one.

When the word "Christian" was first used about 2000 years ago, it meant "those belonging to Christ." It was used to describe the early church. And apparently, they were some pretty cool people. The early Christians were unified, a single group of people doing their best to follow the teachings of Christ. And if you know anything of Western history, you know that the work of the early church paved the way for the church to spread all over the world. But gradually, the church fragmented into smaller and smaller groups over differences of opinion over all kinds of things.

So nowadays, instead of having a group of unified people trying to follow Jesus, what we have is a bunch of competing organizations who each believe that they have the "best" or "most accurate" view of Christianity. It has become less and less important for the church to follow Jesus, and increasingly more important for them to make money to ensure their survival.

I want to recover the heart of Christian spirituality, which is following Jesus. That's why I'm not going to refer to myself as a Christian anymore, because the word now implies a kind of religiosity that I am uncomfortable with. I decided to start this blog to talk about how we can get to know who Jesus really is, and decide whether or not we want to follow him.

So, I have to ask the obvious question: Why be a Christian if you'd turn out like other Christians?