Remember that old camp song? “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.” “We call ourselves Christians.” Yesterday, our pastor brought that simple sentence to the pulpit. He said it in passing. It wasn’t theme of his sermon. It wasn’t even a sub-point. It was just a sentence. But it stuck in the back of my mind, and – obviously – I’m still thinking about it.
I’ve called myself “Christian” all my life. Needless to say, it has been an identifier that started with my parents and extended family. They taught me according to their beliefs. Everyone I knew went to church on Sunday. They might have only gone on special days such as Easter or Christmas, but every one went. Perhaps it was still part of the post-war jitters. Americans had just come through a long war. Man – and women – saw things that they really didn’t talk about for the rest of their lives, and the popular adage, “There are no atheists in a foxhole” was uttered often enough that I don’t remember a time I didn’t know it. In God We Trust wasn’t just a motto.
“Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” Ps 37:5-7 (NASB)
However, the word Christian is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. There was no nomenclature to describe those Jesus called to follow Him except —“Followers”. Which started me down a whole ‘nother train of thought, so to speak. Am I a follower? Would I drop everything in my life, get in the boat and sail out on the sea He that He told me to sail? Do I trust Him that much? I honestly don’t know, and part of me is afraid to take even a step towards that “Sea of Choice”.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt 14:22-27 (NIV)
It is easy to call myself a Christian. It is easy to sit in my comfy chair, family pictures hanging on the wall, dogs sleeping at my feet, husband sorting through Craig’s List options for things we “need”, Grands just minutes away, fancy clothes washer taking care of my chores, and a piano calling my name. But could I sell it all and actually get in the boat? It’s a scary thought. Military families experience this on a small scale. They move. They get in the USS boat and sail away to distant shores. They trust that there is a reason to go. How much scarier is that? Trusting men who live sin-filled lives or trusting the One who knows the Father and loves enough to get on the storm-tossed boat with me?
Many years ago, while I was in college, I ran across a prayer that I cut out and taped to my brick and bare board bookshelf. (Who knows what happened to that original copy?) Did you know that God is a recycler? Recently, that same prayer popped up in my sphere and this time, thanks to technology, I could find out where it came from About 800 years ago, a prayer book was written in England. It was called the Sarum Primer. This one prayer makes me think it was written by a “Follower” instead of a “Christian”.
“God be in my head, and in my understanding; God be in mine eyes, and in my looking; God be in my mouth, and in my speaking; God be in my heart, and in my thinking; God be at mine end, and at my departing.” Sarum Primer
With all the things that are going on in our world today, I’m hoping to make some changes in my identifiers. The process has started already. No longer “Mom” as much as “Grandma” (even to the kids I teach – I have become “Miss Grandma”). “Retiree” more than “teacher”. “Writer” more than “Performer”. So – maybe – hopefully – possibly – prayerfully…I can be “Follower” more than “Christian”. So…how about you? Up for a new challenge?