What’s In A Name?
Christian – a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings; one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Since 2002, we have been out of the ‘church building’ and out of ‘institutional church”. When the revelation hit us in 2002 that we are the church, Christ in us, we simply walked away from a certain form of ‘church’. One can say we left church, but we really did not leave church. We may have left a form but the revelation of the church and the Body of Christ has intensified in our hearts for many years. With each passing year, we become more and more aware of the beauty and the mystery of Christ and His Bride. The Body of Christ is a miracle and we saw it OUT of the confines of religion. We believe in the church of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1: 15-19 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. 16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels– everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. 17 He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. 18 And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and– leading the resurrection parade– he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. 19 So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding
Over the years, we have fellowshipped with small groups of people in homes. We have developed some strong relationships of accountability and continue to be in love with Jesus Christ. A shift happened a few years ago when I began to see that God was pulling us out even further as we began to fellowship with many different people, with diverse belief systems. Our purpose was not to be drawn away from Christianity as much as it was to take Christ into wherever we were going in life.
With our focus on the Lord and our belief in His love for people, we did not feel at all uncomfortable with people that drank, cussed, swore, slept around, or lived with other members of the opposite sex. Then we started having dinner with Muslims, Buddhists, Pakistanis, Indians or Africans. Then along came the lesbians and the homosexuals and even the bisexual and transvestites. Then what followed were more people, simple people whom Jesus Christ died for and whom He loves with an unconditional love. Many showed us their honest feelings about Christianity and what they perceived it to be. When I simply walked in the peace of Jesus Christ without condemnation and lots of love, they kept talking and we kept listening. Most of the past year or so, I have been also been around a lot of people who don’t like the church at large, hate the church, find the church irrelevant, don’t think about it or stereotype her in many ways. Without saying it at times, their impressions of Christians are quite humorous. Some have been raised in church but would not walk into one now at any cost. Some or should I say many, especially among the 30-somethings, may even challenge us on topics of social justice and how they feel the church is totally irrelevant and bigoted. Many test us, trying to see if we are gay haters, hypocrites, religious right-wingers that equate Christianity with American patriotism and Republicanism. Woo-hoo what a ride over the past years! So what is the outcome of all this relationship diversity?
Christian – that is something that I don’t even want people to know I am at times. I am being serious here. Why? Simply because they equate the name Christian, for the most part, with anything but Christ and what the reality of the Gospel truly is. I find myself over and over having to qualify the simple fact that we are just preaching Jesus and the simplicity of the Gospel. Most find this interesting because they often tell us or show us by their expression, that this is not what they find Christianity to be as they observe the current condition of the church at large. So, in some respect, we feel we are continually taking the hits as we venture forth in a bold grace message of forgiveness and love extended to people, no matter who they are. There is a simplicity in Jesus Christ in you, that permeates every atmosphere you find yourself in, at any time. The subtlety and sometimes forthrightness of our speech and actions always conveys some simple truths. God loves you. He sent His Son to die in your place so that you have life in Christ.
At times, I bristle when I tell people that I am a Christian because of the connotations that that term implies. I look past their judgment and simply relax and breathe in their presence, not trying to prove anything but just BEING Jesus Christ to them without judgment or condemnation or a Bible to pound over their head. Just because I don’t have to declare everything I believe does not mean I compromise my convictions or water down this glorious Gospel. I am simply following the Holy Spirit in loving the individual or individuals. And in the process I am seeing my eyes open to greater and greater dimensions of the Father’s love for me and for others. I was hard-core black and white some years ago in what I believed. Gray areas were for those who simply did not have enough faith or conviction to know the truth. Now I know that life is filled with shadows that we don’t really understand. Yet God knows us through and through and loves us with an everlasting love.
Out into the void goes my heartfelt feelings that if I could eliminate the word Christian I would. Just a personal thought! Yet we can’t do that so I wholly prefer to call myself a follower of Jesus Christ and a lover of my Savior. That sounds a lot better to me and it opens the ears of many to wonder, ask questions and listen. Out into the world I go. I am at peace and at rest and able to articulate the depths of my heart. Perhaps you may not relate to this. That is okay. I am in process and when this process ends, onto the next one I go. I look forward to the journey.