When I was growing up, I identified myself as a “Christian”, perhaps influenced by the children’s song, “I am a C-H. I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N. …” Not that there is anything wrong with that term, but the origin of that term was actually what other people called the disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26). As I study the life of Jesus, I realize that He repeatedly invited people to devotedly follow Him in a lifestyle of discipleship, so, for about the past ten years, my faith identity has shifted to “disciple of Jesus”. Consequently, I have been challenged by the fundamental characteristic of discipleship:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
Jesus didn’t say that people would know that we were His followers by how many Bible studies we go to every week or which type of church we attended. He said that we prove that He is our Master by how we treat the people around us. This has been a significant challenge to me, because the Pharisee inside of me wants to focus on self-righteous checklist activities like church attendance and daily Bible reading. Those activities can help us grow in our relationship with God, but Jesus said the proof of our devotion to Him is demonstrating His love to the people around us. May we live lifestyles of intentionally loving our families, neighbors, coworkers, friends, and strangers.