I’ve been a christian for as long as I can remember. I got saved when I was six years old in the comfort of my home while filling out a portion of ‘The Mailbox Club‘ subscription devotionals. I understood what I was doing, though at age six there aren’t really a lot of ‘sinful ways’ to turn from. But I Admitted, Believed, and Confessed and followed the
yellow brick Romans Road and checked all of the boxes the cookie cutter salvation map suggested.
Now at twenty-five, I look back and realize that Andy Stanley was right when he said a ‘Christian’ has been a term used to describe whatever we want. ‘Christian’ describes what we believe. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe I am a sinner and that no amount of good behavior or good deeds will earn me a spot in Heaven. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, bearing my sin and shame then was resurrected three days later freeing me from my sins and gifting me salvation. I believe all of these things. Have since I was six.
I grew up in church, with wonderful, God-fearing parents and grandparents. I probably know any Bible story you can throw at me and can give the basic outline of either side of a theological debate. I have been to Sunday School, on Mission trips, I have even seen God’s provision in my life, felt His presence. I believed in God and have almost always been a decent person. And the times I wasn’t have been washed by the blood. So yeah. I’m a christian.
But not up until recently would I say I was truly trying to be a disciple. Seeking to be a true follower of Christ. Foster a more long-term relationship with Him, in comparison to the phases of my youth.
A ‘Christian’ is determined by one’s beliefs. A ‘Disciple’ is defined by one’s actions. James 2:17 states that Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Not to say that works gets you into heaven, for further explanation on that misconception, read here.)
It was easy to follow Christ at six, before puberty, before comparison, pride, and lust came into play. That’s when discipleship got hard. I soared through standardized school testing, but about the same time I began failing more and more spiritual tests. Saying you believe something is different from acting according to said beliefs.
I believe that an apathetic Christian is more insulting to God than an atheist.At least atheists act according to their beliefs. But an apathetic Christian is exactly what I was. Rationalizing my emotions and my sins, pushing back the Holy Spirit’s nudges so I could get my way, His will on the back burner. I would get around to that. I think of the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30. The one servant took what his master had given him & did something with it, producing more and was called a good and faithful servant. The last servant sat there and did nothing with what he was given, and was dubbed wicked and slothful.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the good and faithful servant! A disciple takes what he or she is given and produces more. I have come a long way and I know I have a much longer journey ahead, but I am done trying to rationalize myself. I want to act on my beliefs and be known for what I stand for. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
“… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1
Let’s run the race on that yellow brick road of discipleship. I hear it is straight, narrow, and has its trials, but I know it takes us the fastest route home.