I’m not talking about a failure to live up to his high standard of morality- which includes both inner attitudes as well as outer actions. We all fail here, and he has made provision for this on the cross.
I’m talking about the great disconnect, the total lack of resemblance between so many Christians (which once meant “Christ-like ones”) and Jesus. I’m referring to the puzzling situation we find ourselves in, in which this gap has become normalized, expected and mostly unquestioned.
The simple answer to this question is that so many who carry the name Christian are not actually following Jesus. They don’t intend to use him as an example, they don’t try to represent him in their daily lives, they don’t consider his teaching in their decision making, they don’t allow his voice to challenge and shape their values.
The fallout from this tragedy is far-reaching with both global and eternal implications: Some never come to faith, some walk away from the faith, some pretend they don’t have faith, the name of Jesus Christ is slandered and the power of his teaching is discredited.
Even raising this issue opens one up to attack, to cries of “Hypocrisy!” After all, who has the moral authority to question the conduct of others? Well, at the very least I would say Jesus has the right to judge those who carry his name. He has defined what it means to follow him. This gives his followers and even those who question his existence a basis for evaluating those who say they are his.
For close to half my life I have wrestled with the question of what it means to follow Jesus and how to close the gap between “Christian” and Christ-Follower.” For nearly twenty years I have been writing and speaking on the topic and refining my conclusions. Two days ago I gave the green light for my thoughts to go to print.
It’s scary to share my opinions on such a massive topic. Many will disagree with my thinking; some may attack my intelligence, spirituality, motives and character. Oh well. I know a guy whose family thought he was nuts, whose friends betrayed him and whose countrymen celebrated his death. I’m trying to follow him, to be like him. I fail daily in this quest. But every time I do he says “Get up, keep going. I’m going to finish what I started in you.”
To learn more about this project, please go to DNA of a Christ Follower.