A few days ago I wrote about the trend of the young millennials calling themselves Jesus followers instead of Christians. Jesus followers are almost uniformly young, claim that the ‘baggage’ of the label ‘Christian’ weighs down their walk, and they’d rather be in a relationship than in a religion with rules.
I liked the essay I wrote and I posted it, but I still did some research, feeling like a piece was missing from my thought process. Turns out there was. And here it is:
Church. The Body.
Millennials who claim to be following Jesus almost always leave the ecclesiology out of their walk.
This term today of ‘following Jesus’ is so common out in the world! Most millennials are spouting this. Of course there is baggage in the term Christian. Of course there are rules. That is the point, but most Millennials want the soft, gentle parts of the relationship without the hard parts of the religion. And they bristle at the doctrines of sin and judgment. Most are not saved.
Here is a short essay on the subject of Christ follower or Christian by Tyler Braun, who wrote “Why Holiness Matters” from Moody Press. His thoughts crystallized some things for me.
Christ Follower or Christian by Tyler
Spend some time on Facebook and look at the religious views of many and you will quickly learn that there is a trend to be a “Christ Follower,” “Follower of Christ,” or “Follower of Jesus” rather than a “Christian.” You might be asking why… I think this is something common in the younger generations who are unhappy with the way Christians have represented their faith in the past. So rather than being grouped with the “Christians” they’d rather keep the religion out of it in order to only follow Jesus.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this practice of denying being a “Christian” in order to be a “Christ follower” is completely wrong. About the only positive I can see is the extra emphasis on following Jesus. There are many people who do not hold to any of the basic tenets of the Christian faith who are “following Jesus.” Why is it wrong?
–It isolates. Meaning that part of being a Christ follower is being in relationship with fellow Christians, not just those who follow Jesus the way we do.
–It segregates. The Christian faith has enough division. There is no need for there to be a division in how we state what we are as believers.
That’s good. Very good.
Here is a snippet from Time Magazine reporting on the trend that also crystallized the final thoughts about this trend for me:
…some also worry that “follower of Jesus” diverts people from the fundamentals. “Two questions constantly come up,” says Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary. “The first is Christology. What about the full divinity of Christ? How much can you keep that in the background? Second, what’s the role of the church in all this?”
|Horse with blinkers, or blinders CC by Steve|
Again, very good. Many ‘Christ followers’ are like the horse with blinders, following only the straight line ahead, one horse unto itself, unmindful of those who are next to him or behind him. To some extent we adults have caused this. Millennials go to large para-church conferences like Passion, which they believe is church but is not church. Except for their youth minister, Passion doesn’t even allow parents or adults to attend with their children! Millennials attend Rock the Universe concerts that are promoted as Praise weekends, which they believe is church but is not church. The Mars Hill mentality of music as worship they believe is church but is not church. An even to some extent, separating the youths from the regular congregation as an entity unto themselves, sequestered in their own buildings, without the benefit of older role models to view and interact with, they believe is church but often is not church.
“The church itself is a dark and modern giant auditorium, with theater-style seats, an impressive sound system, and big flat-screen TV’s everywhere. It looks like the kind of place you might see a concert in, but not somewhere you’d expect to go to church. The prominently featured indie-style rock band felt right at home here, as did the theatrics that followed.” Millennial aged Mars Hill church goer.
We’ve given them para-church, home groups, praise group weekends, Walks to Emmaus and Chrysalis, and rock concerts, so is it any wonder they reject rules, religion, worship, and submission to the church leadership? Is it any wonder they eschew the word Christian as baggage, want to ‘follow’ Christ, and go off on their own? Is it any wonder they have no clue of what it means to be part of a body submitting to leadership, and not just a singular follower blissfully doing their own thing?
Not a Christian, But a Christ-Follower?
The downside of trying to re-brand your Christian identity
And the effort to uproot Jesus from the church makes as much sense as loving someone’s head, but not their body; or admiring Thomas Jefferson and sneering at the Constitution. Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone and head of the church. Without the people Jesus comes from, without the people Jesus births into the world, there is no Jesus. The people Jesus births into the world are called “Christian.”
We’re either all Christ followers or none of us are. We are all in a body, with Jesus as its Head. That body is called church, and church has rules as does our life. The relationship we have is to Christ, but it is also to each other. Christ followers, please heed this passage:
Unity in the Body of Christ
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Original essay: Do you “follow Jesus”? Or are you “saved by Jesus?”
Liberals change word meanings with intent to deceive
The cults are infamous for perverting historically accepted biblical terms. “Is it any wonder then,” said the late Christian apologist/polemicist Dr. Walter Martin in The Riddle of Semantics, “that orthodox Christians feel called upon to openly denounce such perversions of clearly defined and historically accepted biblical terminology, and claim that the cults have no rights — scholastically, biblically, or linguistically — to redefine biblical terms as they do?” (Source)