I have often said that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. He is indeed my Lord and Savior. But, is there a difference between being a follower of Christ and being a Christian? Up until recently I had not tried to discern any difference in those two state. But now I am coming to understand that they can be two quite different things.
Being a follower of Jesus Christ means that I study his words as found in the Gospel text and take them to heart. Those words are what drives me throughout my life. Jesus gave us many insights in what it means to be one of his followers. The primary message I get is that we are to be our brother’s keeper. We are to love God above everything else and to love our fellow-man as ourselves. Jesus said these two things take in the totality of the Jewish law that came via the old covenent before him.
Being a Christian, at least to me, means being associated with some organization that is trying to tune itself around Christ. I think there has come to be quite a difference between Christian establishments and the invisible Body of Christ. As I have mentioned often on this blog, there are currently over 39,000 versions of Christian establishments around today. That number is constantly increasing as more and more are separating themselves over doctrinal and belief issues. This never-ending division started early in our history. Many believe that St. Paul in his many letters to different congregations about many different issues put in place a myriad of rules that are at the core of these separations. These divisions also seemed to start growing exponentially about the time that some started taking all the words of the Bible as being literal and absolutely true. With that stand it is very hard to reconcile so many of the different issues addressed in the Bible so many people latch on to a handful of verses and just mostly ignore the others.
So, here I am a follower of Jesus Christ and not currently associated with any religious establishments of the day. In some ways this is a liberating state as I can now concentrate on Jesus’ words alone and don’t have to worry about aligning them with any current church practices or doctrine.