Christian or Christ-Follower

There has been a trend in the last several years for people to distance themselves from the term “Christian.”  It’s very hip to refer to ourselves as “Christ-followers.”  At first, it seemed like a “whatever” issue; nothing of consequence.  But now I find myself somewhat disturbed by its use.

When people refer to themselves as “Christ-followers,” they mean (in one way or another) that they are somehow different from what most non-Christians expect in believers.  In this video, you can get a feel for how the term is being used.  Sadly, I think this comment sums it up best:

would Christ divide his Church and patronize a different ‘clique’ of His believers using pop commercialism to portray the message? in my opinion, both of the two options are far from being like Christ. rather than strive to be ‘Christ-like’, the Christian is too concerned with dabbling in pretentious formality. Rather than ‘Following Christ’, the ‘Christ Follower’ is preoccupied with corporate fads and his own vanity of being more socially acceptable than the Christian.

I don’t know anything about the people who made the video.  They may have been expressing exactly what the commenter said.  Unfortunately, based on the rest of the videos, I have the sense that the video is intended to be slanted in favor of calling ourselves Christ-followers and being trendy and modern.

The problem I have is that far too many people have gone along with Christian pop culture and begun using the term without having much of an idea what they are really saying.  Many people mistakenly believe that if they use the right word, it will somehow be less threatening or more appealing.  It might convince people that Christians are not out of touch with real life.  There’s also an unspoken attitude that people can call themselves Christians without actually believing in Jesus, but Christ-followers are obviously real, true believers.  Let me lay those claims to rest: people are often just as hurt, upset, or offended regardless of the name we use for ourselves.  It’s neither the terminology nor the message of Christ, it’s the attitude and the way it’s presented that turns a lot of folks off.

The real tragedy is that just as not all “Christians” are stuffy, boring, Bible-thumping or phony, and not all “Christ-followers” are loving, giving, grace-filled and genuine.  Far too many people who publicly call themselves followers of Jesus still believe that:

-poor people are mostly just lazy

-AIDS is God’s punishment for gays

-“serving others” means making the coffee on Sunday mornings, but doesn’t include helping your neighbor rake his yard

-“reaching out” means forming friendships with strings attached (i.e., “I’ll be your friend as long as I think I have a shot at converting you”)

Today, I am reclaiming the term Christian.  I am not ashamed to call myself a Christian instead of any other term for my faith.  Honestly, I don’t care what my Christian/Christ-following brothers and sisters call themselves.  What matters more is what’s inside the package, not what’s printed on the label.


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