16th March 2018
What is Christianity? Is it a belief system? Yes. Is it a religion? I'm not sure what a religion is. Is it a state of being? Yes. Is it a community? Yes. But it's more. A person can accept the Christian belief system, belong to the Christian "religion", be forgiven, redeemed and adopted as a child of God, join the community of believers that we call the church, and not know real Christianity. Real Christianity is discipleship.
My friends and I recently discussed the question, "What is the difference between a convert and a disciple?" My answer is this:
I'm thrilled when somebody becomes a convert through the ministry of my church, but I want my church to make disciples.
I'm convinced that discipleship is the most fulfilling life possible and that just being a covert is profoundly unfulfilling. If we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into following Jesus, and trusting Jesus, God will show us such wonders that the things of earth will truly grow strangely dim.
But if we accept the benefits of Jesus's sacrifice on the cross but ignore his teaching, or adopt a pick-and-mix approach to believing what He says, we will be what James calls "double-minded" people, will receive little more than our salvation, and will have frustrating lives on earth and little treasure in heaven.
Real Christianity is discipleship, and discipleship involves surrendering my will to God. It involves denying myself, taking up my cross daily, and following Jesus. It involves going wherever Jesus sends me. It involves always letting Jesus lead. It involves believing everything Jesus says, and doing everything Jesus tells us to do.
Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" and in Philippians 3:10, "I want to know Christ". So do I!
Believing everything Jesus says is more difficult that it may at first appear. Sooner or later Jesus, or the Bible, which is Jesus's book, will say something we don't believe and don't want to believe. When this happens – and it will – we have to choose to continue to be a disciple and not merely a convert.
Many fail this test.