Imagine for a moment, you’ve been longtime friends with Johnny. Your friend Johnny is a football player, he plays for the Titans. You know this because Johnny never shuts up about it. The entire time you’ve been friends he’s told you about it time and time again. Johnny doesn’t seem much like a football player, he’s a bit out of shape and rather clumsy but he says he is.
One Sunday you decide to catch a home game, when you show up you are shocked to see Johnny sitting just a few seats down. You approach him, Johnny what are you doing up here? I thought you were a football player.
“I am. I’m here every single game.”
What I just described is how many Christians today live out their Christianity. They say time and time again they are Christian, their friends may notice they don’t act much like a Christian, they don’t talk much like a Christian but hey, they say they are.
We justify it by saying, I’m doing the best I can. I’m at church every single week, well at least monthly.. that qualifies me. Going to church makes you as much a Christian as going to a football game makes you a football player.
So how do we be a Christian?
First, we need to understand what Christian actually means. The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament:
“…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” – Acts 11:26
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’” – Acts 26:28
“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” – 1 Peter 4:16
The Greek used here is Χριστιανός: Christianos
It means “follower of Christ.”
This phrase “follower” was a big deal in early Jewish culture. If we think back to when Jesus began His ministry when He approached a disciple His words were always “follow me.”
As “Christians”, we are called to be disciples of Jesus. We are called to follow Him.
I’ve always known this, I’ve actually said numerous times I don’t like the term “Christian” because it carries such a negative connotation, I prefer the term “Jesus follower.” This never clicked like it did last month when I began to read and study about Jesus as not only the Son of God but also as the Jewish Rabbi His disciples saw Him as. When Jesus came, He came not only as a human but He was also a Rabbi. A Rabbi who had disciples, we know them as Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Judas (son of James), Bartholomew, Thomas, James, Matthew, Simon (Canaanite) and Judas Iscariot. Those were Rabbi Jesus’ twelve disciples. So what did the life of a disciple look like in this culture?
We may think that as a disciple you would simply sit under a Rabbi and listen to his lectures, in Jewish culture a disciple would literally follow the Rabbi. They would often travel with, live with and imitate every action of their rabbi. They would learn not only from what the rabbi said but from what they did as well. The goal of a disciple was to become as much like their rabbi as they could.
We can read the gospels and know this is the kind of disciple that Jesus had. They went with Him everywhere, they did everything with Him.
If we call ourselves “Christian” or follower of Jesus, this is the kind of disciples we need to be. The kind that follow and imitate Jesus.
My friend, Dave Adamson, had a conversation with a Jewish rabbi that told him that if a Christian were truly to be a disciple of Jesus that Christian should be spending time with Jesus each day. He challenged Dave to read through all 4 gospels each month. That would be the equivalent to being a disciple of a rabbi. Dave plans to do that every month for all of 2019. He’s actually released a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app called “Follow the Rabbi” where he provides a daily devotion and takes you through reading all 4 gospel accounts in one month. I just started the plan!
So how do you become a true disciple of the Rabbi Jesus?
1. Spend time with Him: in His word and in prayer.
2. Follow His instructions: love others, pray, fast, tithe.
3. Imitate His actions: Love on people, forgive, be selfless, pray.
Let’s join together and end Sunday morning Christianity and become true followers of the One True King. Let’s follow Jesus with our entire selves. The term Christian is not passive it is actually an action, to follow. Let’s be active in our faith. Let’s make a difference in our community and in our world. Let’s be the earth-shaking followers of Jesus we were called to be.
Go out today and follow Jesus.
Note: I do want to say that the actions of being a disciple are not needed to be saved but you never see anyone in scripture get saved without changing their lives. Life change is the most effective method to determine salvation.
“Follow Me” (Bold all the “Follow Me”)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” – Mark 1:17
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, – Luke 5:27
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Luke 18:22