I don’t want to be a “Christian” anymore. Too many people hear “Christian” and think “a judgmental hypocrite with condemnation” thrown in. That’s not me. Some “Christians” have moved on to self-identifying as a “Christ Follower”, “Christ Seeker” or “Christ Lover”. I don’t want to be labeled that way either.
Jesus called thousands to “take up their cross and follow me”, and he called the twelve disciples for a closer relationship so that he could teach them by His actions and words. They were to listen and observe Jesus, and then change their lives. But instead of “imitating” Christ, the disciples just keep “following” him:
1. Jesus explains that he is going to die for their sins and how they will be brought together with God. What do James and John do? They covet the most distinguished seats next to Jesus even getting their mother to go ask Jesus if they can have the preferred seats! So much for Jesus teaching them the “First must be Last!” (Mark 10:32-45).
2. Jesus asks Peter, James and John to stay with him while he prays and grieves in the Garden of Gethsemane, but the disciples keep falling asleep! “So could you not stay awake with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)
3. Jesus teaches the disciples, “Put your trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5)” and Jesus never let them down. But what happens in the storm on the Sea of Galilee, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” and Jesus’ rebuke, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:38, 40)
4. Jesus had given the disciples the authority to heal (Mark 10:1): “Jesus summoned the twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.” Yet, because of their lack of faith, they are unable to heal the young epileptic boy, “I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17:16)
I don’t want to just “follow” Christ, I want to “imitate” Him.
I want to be humble, keep my faith sharp, put my trust in God and have the authority to heal; I want to imitate Jesus. Instead of just watching, I’m going to practice what he is teaching me, putting his words into my actions.
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
I pray that we will no longer just follow Christ, choosing instead to be Christ Imitators, changing our lives in imitation of His life and death.
(artwork: The Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind, El Greco, ca. 1570, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York)