I have passport, driver license, credit card and tax file numbers. These numbers identify me. But they do not define me. Not even my employment, wealth, nationality, marital or family status defines me. Who, rather than what defines me, is God. I am a child of God, as are all human beings created in His image. Further, I am a Christian - a person whose fractured relationship with God has been completely and forever restored through the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is all God’s work – none of it mine. If any label defines me it is ‘Christian’. It may be the most obvious, but it’s not necessarily the most helpful badge I can wear. Let me explain.
In the New Testament, the word Christian – literally ‘little Christ’ – was first used to describe Jesus’ followers in Antioch (Acts 11:26). In all, the word Christian is only used 3 times throughout the bible. By contrast, the word disciple is used 269 times. A disciple is literally a follower - someone who goes where Jesus goes, follows where Jesus leads. To be called a Christian can (inaccurately) suggest having reached a settled state, whereas to be a disciple is to be forever on the move, knowing that Jesus calls us always onwards until we reach the finish line of faith. Where I am on the discipleship journey is less important than the direction I am heading. It does not matter if I am at the start line of faith or nearing the finish line; what matters most is whether I am consciously and intentionally following Jesus – moving towards him.
The promise of the discipleship journey is that as we journey closer and closer to Jesus, the more and more like Jesus we become, until that day when we are truly and literally Christian, that is a ‘little Christ.’ And so our goal for Newlife through 2014 is pretty simple; that every one of us, no matter where we are on the discipleship journey, will by God’s grace move even a little further along that road. Then we will see more people, more like Jesus.
(A sinner saved by grace; disciple of Jesus)