Andy Stanley produced a DVD entitled “Christian—It’s Not What You Think.” In his sermons recorded on the DVD, he points out that “Christian” has so many connotations in our current society that do not adequately define what a follower of Christ should be like. From the world’s point of view, it can generally mean anyone who believes in that Jesus is God’s Son and attends a church (whether regularly or not).
But “disciple” is the term Jesus used to describe what he wanted his followers to be. In his Great Commission, we are to preach the gospel and make “disciples.” A disciple is one who studies the teachings of another to learn and follow those teachings in life because he/she believes that is the best way to live.
As a follower of Christ, how should we view ourselves—as a Christian or disciple? Which of the two definitions above describe us most accurately?
To be fair, we might be more comfortable with the term Christian, because in our minds, that term implies being a disciple. Also, in our modern culture, the term “disciple” is not as common for followers of Christ and can apply to a follower of anyone or any religion.
Whatever we call ourselves, we should be concerned about the term that honestly describes ourselves. Probably all who are reading this do believe in God and Jesus and believe Jesus is God’s Son whom God sent to save us, and also attend church sometime. And in attending church and listening to a sermon, we hear the teachings of Christ through his own words or through the teaching of his apostles and disciples recorded in the New Testament. But we have to ask the following questions to see if our answers are really producing the life change and characteristics that Jesus would consider to be one of his followers.
· Is the one sermon a week (or less frequent) sufficient for absorbing and applying the teachings of Christ in my life (providing I can remember enough of the sermon after I get home)?
· Am I sincere enough in my desire to learn and apply the teaching of Christ that I also am involved in a Sunday School class, Small Group Bible study, daily devotions, or fellowship with others?
· Am I intentionally disciplining myself to have daily time in prayer, additional study of the Scriptures, and intentionally following the leading of the Holy Spirit in actively obeying the teachings and commands of the Lord?
· Am I doing all I can to help build the kingdom by sharing the gospel with others?
These questions are not meant to be judgmental. It’s just good to do a self-check from time to time. It doesn’t matter what the world calls us, but it does matter what we really are, especially from the Lord’s perspective. I hope this is helpful.