These are interesting (even challenging) times to be a disciple. We swim in a culture in which people are less and less sure what it means to be a Christian. We live in a city where many doubt that a person with a vigorous mind would (or could) also have an active faith.
What's more, our society no longer seems inclined to hand the Christian faith complimentary servings of good will. Did you know that a recent survey in this country (of young people between the ages of 16 and 29) found that the primary words that this demographic would use to describe Christians are "judgmental" and "hypocritical"?ª
Certainly, a good bit of our bad press has been deserved. Christian institutions and Christian figures have produced more than our fair share of scandals, mean-spiritedness, and just plain loopiness.
Still, people continue to follow. Across the world, Christianity continues to grow. Why? Well, perhaps the Christian faith really is more than a laundry list of our most prominent mess-ups. Much more.
When you get past cultural motives for being a Christian ("I was born and bred a Presbyterian. What other choice do I have?"); I think the primary reason that most of us have stayed within the faith is an appreciation for the basics.
When Jesus summoned disciples, he asked them to follow. Then, he traveled around and did stuff. He healed. He taught. He forgave. From time to time, he would turn to the motley crew who was tagging along behind him and say, "Go and do likewise."
Maybe it's that simple. Maybe life, the Christian life, depends on this basic protocol. Tag along behind Jesus. Try to do likewise.
Right now, I am preparing a fall sermon series. The ten week series will focus on ten verbs, ten things that Jesus either did or commanded the disciples to do. Here are some of the verbs that I am considering:
What would you add to the list? What verbs signify following Jesus to you?
ª The Barna Group, UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity, 2007.
[Taken with permission from Scott Black Johnston's blog, "Sharp About Your Prayers."]