Are you a Christian or a Disciple?

Yesterday I shared:

John 13:34-35 (NIV)-“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I further shared that this verse meant that the world will know we are disciples by our love. If we are truly disciples, we will love.

That got me thinking, is there a difference between a Christian and a disciple?

The term Christian is found in the Bible three times, the first time being in:

Acts 11:26-….. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

The term Christian was used to mean “Christ follower” or “little Christ.” As the name implies, a Christian was someone who believed in and followed the teachings of Christ. While at first the term was used as an insult, believers embraced it as honor because the term implied they were Christ-like.

Disciples were those who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. To be more exact, disciples were considered to be students or apprentices of someone.

John 8:31- 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

Luke 6:40-A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher.

In short, in Biblical times, the terms “Christian and Disciple” were interchangeable. I am not so sure the same applies in today’s times.

While most dictionaries still define “Christian” as someone who follows Christ, I think most people use it for those who believe in Christ, or even worse, those who attend church. It is like any other category of religion: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.

There are many who believe in Christ, but few who actually follow Christ by following His teachings. I equate this with the “fan or follower” in Kyle Idleman’s book Not A Fan.

You can believe in Christ and go to church (today’s Christian) and still not be a disciple (those who are trying to follow the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ).

To be a true disciple, I believe you have to make an effort to live your life according to the Bible. As we learned yesterday, in John 13: 34-35, Jesus states we are not disciples of Christ if we don’t love. Why? Because loving each other is a command from God and if we refuse to try to fulfill this command we are not truly following Christ.

Yes, there is room for grace here as we all fall short, but we must be careful not to let the gift of grace keep us from trying.

Luke 9:23-24 -Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

The greatest realization of my life (next to my free gift of salvation) was that the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I died. A new life was given, not for my own purposes, but for God’s purposes. I am to live each and every day for the glory of God.

Now, in order to be real, I must share that this realization took years. I honestly did not believe it was possible to want to live for God. This sounded so boring. I couldn’t imagine a life not centered around my wants, needs, and desires. It was my life after all, I wanted to enjoy it!

I failed to see that true, lasting satisfaction could only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and following in His ways. I have since found that true satisfaction. Furthermore, I want to live for God. I am not doing it because I am required to do it (that would be legalism-the Law). No, I am doing it because I want to do it. Yes, I want to please the Lord, but I also want the comfort and peace that comes with being in the will of God.

To many that may seem far-fetched, maybe even rose-colored, but I swear it is the absolute truth. I wouldn’t have believed it either, so I encourage you all to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Try taking a step in obedience and just see what God will do.


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