I have recently been reminded that there are a lot of meanings for the word “Christian” in the world today. Everything from the simple “believe and receive”, to “following and obeying”, to a complex religion of “rights, wrongs, and rituals”, and everything in-between. But the true meaning of “Christian” is much more simple, much easier to understand, simply put it is “to be a disciple of Christ”. A disciple is so much more than just a “follower”, Merriam-Webster.com defines “disciple” as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another” (emphasis mine). A disciple takes action and “assists” in the spreading of the doctrines after they accept them, rather than just following along for the ride. A disciple of Christ does not “lead from behind”, we are out front, leading the way by the life we live and the fruit it produces…This means we should be digging into the Word to find out what Christ was like for ourselves, so we can become a “little Christ” and assist in spreading the doctrines (principles and teachings) of Christ. How many “Christians” do this on a daily basis?
It was the non-Christian world that first referred to Christ’s followers as “Christians” or “little Christs”; it was because Christ’s followers were different than everyone else. They did not just “follow” Christ’s teachings, they lived and taught them daily. It was easy to see who was a Christian by how they lived their daily lives, and it irritated the world. Is the world irritated with how we live our lives, or do we blend in with the world so well that the difference is unnoticeable? If we were not to tell someone we are a Christian, would they know it by the fruit in our lives?
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Acts 11:26 (NKJV)
Matthew 16:24 says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The Greek word used in this text is “akolouthe?” meaning “to be in the same way with”. The word follow used in this verse means much more than to follow someone around, it means to be the “same as” them, to be like them. If we believe this as truth, then we can understand why the disciples were called “little Christs”, they were in the same way as Christ, they were a “mini-me” of Christ.
Salvation itself is a free gift, it cannot be bought, sold or earned (Eph. 2:28). The Bible also teaches us that our “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20); that we may not continue in sin that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1-2); and that the liberty in our salvation is not to be used as an opportunity for the flesh (Gal. 5:13). This tells us that after we are saved we are to walk in the faith of our salvation and as we do so, our lives will change to be more like Christ. We are not to use the liberty given to us by our salvation to continue living in sin, rather we are to use our salvation to live in liberty and freedom from sin…live like Christ.
Everyone commits sin, no one is perfect except Christ, but what makes a Christian different is being repentant of the sin. Repentance is not a feeling of guilt or a feeling on condemnation, rather it is remorse and sorrow for our wrong actions. Christians are “sorry” for our sins, we are remorseful for our actions that hurt the heart of our Heavenly Father and cause separation from His presence. We are to come to Him daily and repent of our sins, that we may be cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is our unrighteousness that separates us from God, for light cannot fellowship with darkness (1 John 1:5-6).
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1 John 1:6 (NKJV)
Christians who choose to continue to live in known sin with an unrepentant heart are deceiving themselves and creating a separation from God (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thes. 5:19), possibly believing a lie unto death. Those who believe they are are under liberty to do as they please are deceived, for we were not given our liberty in order to please or satisfy the flesh. These teachings and beliefs are very dangerous and may be jeopardizing the salvation of many. Christ did not call us to “make nice” to fill churches or make friends with the world. He called us to live a life of righteousness and to make disciples (His disciples). He called us to lay down our flesh and take up our cross, that we might show the world His light in us. How much of His light shines through each of us on a daily basis? Are we lighting the world around us?
There is a big difference between “believing” in Christ and being a “Christian”. Even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19), but they are not saved. Being a Christian means you live your life in such a way that your faith and salvation is evident to those around you.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
James 2:19-20 (NKJV)
Each one of us have our own life to live and must walk out our faith with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). We are all in a different place in our walk, but we are all on the same path, the path of righteousness in Christ. If it is not our goal to walk out our faith and find our righteousness in Christ, how can we call ourselves “Christian”? If we are not following His ways, how can we call ourselves “Christian”? We are to be “in” the world that we may be a light in the darkness, but we are not to be “of” the world, participating and/or condoning its ways. How can we bring correction to those around us if we do not correct the sin in our own life? How can we call others into righteousness if we are not living it ourselves? As Christians, we must set the example for others to follow, the example of a “little Christ”.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:40 (NKJV)
Are you only a Christian on the inside, behind closed doors, or are you a “little Christ” for the world to see and follow? Ask yourself, can others see Christ in you, the way He lived, spoke, and brought correction unto righteousness? Are you striving to be like your Teacher, your Master?
When others look at your life, do they see a “Little Christ”?