“There is just so much baggage with that term,” said a friend of mine when asked why she does not call herself a Christian. “I don’t want what I call myself to be a stumbling block for people to know who Jesus is. There have been so many people who call themselves ‘Christian,’ and yet do not live like they are.” This is a clear refrain that I hear over and over from people in our churches who have shed what they consider an archaic term for the more “politically correct” term of “Christ-follower.” The trouble is that it is not just a term that will quickly, if it has not already, become archaic itself, but it is a term that undermines the whole concept of what being a Christian is all about.
And let’s be honest, if the idea is to not offend people then we need to go back to the words of Christ himself. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11 ESV). In other places he explicitly says that people are offended by the truth of God, so any way we try to sugar-coat the truth by our terminology will go stale.
If you call yourself a “Christ-follower,” I hope the following points will help you to reconsider and take a stand by embracing who you are in Christ.
We live in a world where so many have decided that the church has lost its way. Many have taken their exit and many continue to struggle to find some level of hope and truth for the people of God. Waves of “seeker-sensitive,” “purpose-driven” and “relevant” churches have changed the perspective of ministry from teaching and preaching the gospel to conform to the American business model of success.
In his new book, David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, tells about his struggle with being the pastor of a large church, living the “American church dream” and yet becoming uncertain about how his approach to ministry is really modeled in the Bible:
So how was I to reconcile the fact that I was now pastoring thousands of people with the fact that my greatest example in ministry was known for turning away thousands of people?
In a small meeting room on deck 5, a group of Federation officers take some time away from their important duties onboard the Starship Enterprise to reflect on something more infinite than space itself. The group has been working through the Gospel of Mark and all the while reflecting on the sufficiency of grace and the role of Christ in his universal plan of salvation.
Inspired by the sharp confrontation in chapter 8, Lt. Worf decides to read from the KLV (Klingon Language Version of the Bible). “This particular version,” he explains, “gives special strength to Jesus’ rebuke of Peter because of our rich, warlike tongue:”
peghHa’ ghaH, SoQvam maqtaHvIS.
ghaH nge’pu’DI’ pe’tlhoS, ghaH qunchoH.
– Mark 8:32
So hang the hopes of members of the Klingon Bible Translation Project. The endeavors of this group of devout Trekkers claim that their “goals do not include missionary work, but this is a project worthy of [their] efforts for purely secular reasons.”
Nearly a year ago I began to follow the moving and shaking that has been happening in the northern part of my state in a booming Christian congregation called Granger Community Church. A typical megachurch, Granger prides itself in being fully relevant to popular culture even to the extent of using Coldplay songs to headline services and basing sermons on popular movies, drawing out “spiritual themes” and applying them to the lives of Christians.
As a testimony to the belief in the method above the message, executive pastor Tim Stevens wrote a book called Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? to defend the church’s philosophy of taking pop culture as the driving force behind its weekly services rather than the good news of Jesus Christ.
Lacking theological basis, services at Granger lack the biblical substance, giving popular culture the center stage. Granger wrongly bases its success on the number of people in attendance, not on the strength of their belief. For the remainder of this post I will take chapter 8, titled “I’m Not a Theologian, But…” and address each of the ten points he tries to make to justify a position that the church should not only address popular culture, but completely embrace it.
Printed on recycled paper, using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover, the Green Bible is the project by HarperCollins to bring environmental responsibility and the teaching of Scripture in to one beautiful package. Within the text of this edition of the NRSV, verses that are about the earth and the environment are printed in green ink to highlight the Bible’s comments on taking care of the planet.
Yet under this cover is a message that arguably undercuts aspects of the overall message of the Word of God. What’s the harm in putting two good concepts together, you may ask? Should Christians not be concerned about the environment, it being God’s creation and all?