I was asked by a friend this morning, "what is distinctive about being a 'follower of Christ?' Does it tell us any more than the blogger in Iraq who says he is a follower of Islam?"
My first reaction is to say that in following Christ, I know that I am following THE One, THE Way, THE Truth, THE Life. To me there is a piece of head knowledge, knowing that it is the truth, and there is a piece of faith, believing in the things that I cannot see. But that might be the same answer you would get from the blogger in Iraq, the follower of Islam. So that doesn't distinguish me from the Iraqi.
What does make me different, I think, is that my faith is not about how I live or behave. My salvation is secure. I don't have to live a certain way in order to earn it or keep it. Jesus died for me, I accept the gift of His salvation, and it is complete. And I could leave it there. For my salvation, I am not required to do anything more than accept it. It is that amazing grace everyone talks/sings about; salvation offered to us even though we don't deserve it.
But there is more offered, and I want it. He promises an abundant life. (John 10:9&10) The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians of experiencing the love of Christ that is so great we will never fully understand it, and being filled with a fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now that sounds good, and I want some of that. How do I get that? Here is where the way I live my life comes into play, here is where I need to surrender my self, here is where I need to make Jesus's two greatest commandments my compass, here is where I want to see the fruit of the Spirit pouring out of me (or, maybe growing? fruit doesn't really pour, does it?).
(I love the whole passage, Ephesians 3:14-19 in the New Living Translation, it just makes sense....you can look up Bible passages in a gazillion different translations at www.Biblegateway.com if you don't have the NLT)
Despite being married to a man who teaches History and has taught many classes on comparitive religions, etc., I don't have a great grasp on what others believe. So I don't know for sure if this makes me different. But it is what I hope to be all about, not just a Christian, but a follower of Christ.
Our small group has been reading "God is Closer than You Think," by John Ortberg. He exlpains how disciples in the New Testament times would follow their traveling rabbi from town to town and learn from him. Not just the scriptures, but how to live life. They would want to follow so close that they would get the dust of their rabbi on their own clothes. And I want to be that kind of follower. Except I'm not wild about dirty feet.....