why Jesus follower?

For some time now I have sensed that the word ‘christian’ has lost its original punch.
Many people seem to use the label ‘christian’, without having a sense of what it means to follow Jesus.
Many others seem to react negatively to anything associated with the word ‘christian’, but not for reasons related to what it means to follow Jesus.

I am not sure when I became a ‘christian’.
Born into a ‘christian’ home, I went to a ‘christian’ church and a christian grade school.
(Interestingly, I attended a ‘public’ highschool – is ‘christian’ not ‘public’ but ‘private’?)
When I decided to become a ‘christian’ minister, I went to a ‘christian’ college, then to a ‘christian’ seminary, and then graduated to serve in two ‘christian’ churches among good, ‘christian’ people.

But while serving as a ‘christian’ minister, I encountered the message of Jesus (go figure), as opposed to the doctrines of the church.
Don’t get me wrong, the doctrines of the church include the message of Jesus, but in my own experience the message of Jesus was lost in the doctrines of the church.
I started to think (and think even more so now) that, while we still will have doctrines, that the doctrines of the church are a sub-category to the message of Jesus.
The early disciples did not have catechisms or systematic theologies in their hands when they decided to follow Jesus, they developed their thinking after they started following Jesus.

The key elements for the early disciples was not learning doctrine, but it was deciding whether to throw in their lot with Jesus and His mission from God.
They had to decide to surrender their own dreams and ambitions, and risk their future safety and success by aligning themselves with Jesus and His kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

I want to rediscover this radical quality of deciding to follow Jesus, spending time in dialogue with Him to learn and grow, and going out with Him into the world to seek and to save the lost.
I want to be a disciple, not a ‘christian’ or a ‘church-goer’ or a ‘pew-sitter’ or a ‘church member’.
Jesus is God’s messiah, the only hope of the world, and His way is the only way.
What I need to figure out from here is, how do I live in my own time the way Jesus did?

From my point of view, Jesus did not come to forgive me or to take me to heaven… these are just the fringe benefits.
The reason Jesus came was to call me to Himself that I might join Him in His mission for the world.
He is calling me (us) to a way of life, a way of living and dying that is contrary to the worldly ways.
Somehow, being a Jesus-follower ought to be more radical than being a ‘christian’ was to me.

I am slowly learning what it means to be a Jesus follower… but I have a long way to go.
Will you join me?

Join me in this blog conversation about what it means to follow Jesus.
You will find personal stories, questions for discussion, Bible readings and reflections, as well as updates on my own journey.
You can also share your own stories, ask your own questions, and offer your own insights to the question, what does it mean to follow Jesus?

In His Hands,

Norm