believer, or follower?

Scripture, specifically the New Testament refers to God’s people in Jesus as believers as well as disciples, meaning learners in the sense of apprenticeship: followers of Jesus. This is not a post to suggest we must choose between the two, because both (and more- e.g., the faithful) are found in scripture.

For most of my lifetime, and years as a Christian, “believer” generally received the emphasis in circles I’ve occupied. But in recent years “follower” has eclipsed and all but passed it.

I have to wonder if the influence of the Enlightenment didn’t dictate that faith was more than less about what one actually believed, specifically propositions, rather than one’s trust in and commitment to a person, namely the person of God, or God in Christ by the Spirit.

This is probably in large measure why my own tendency toward skepticism (hopefully not too much of cynicism) seems to be no threat at all to my faith, overall. Even though I think there are quite sound reasons for accepting intellectually the witness concerning Jesus, and specifically his resurrection. The emphasis of my faith is toward a person,  both in terms of trust and commitment. The crisis for me would most likely be in terms of that trust and commitment being undermined through the hard knocks of life. However scripture gives us plenty of heads up on the dark night of the soul, so that we not only shouldn’t be surprised but generally I think we should expect something of that experience at times. Being a follower of Jesus means doing so not only with one’s mind, but with one’s entire life. We either follow Christ that way, or we’re not true believers in the New Testament, biblical sense.

And so I prefer “follower,” while at the same time being thankful that faith includes assurance in terms of revealed truth, specifically of the truth as it is in the one we follow: Jesus.

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2 comments on “believer, or follower?

  1. BOSS PAUL THE PHARISEE
    [sing it to the tune of "Rapture" by Blondie]

    I’m Boss Paul, the Pharisee
    My hypocrisy’s plain for the world to see
    I travel the land and travel the sea
    to make a convert who is just like ME

    “All have sinned” – we know that’s true
    but it never means ME – it only means YOU
    My sins are all theoretical
    “I’m the worst of sinners”- but don’t ask where

    To be more like Jesus is what some strive
    except for me – I’ve already arrived
    I’m the perfect model since the road to Damascus
    What were Paul’s sins? Don’t ask us!

    I justify everything I do
    If I testify about myself it MUST be true
    I’m the only man in all history
    whose testimony doesn’t need two or three

    If I did something it MUST be right
    Don’t use the Scripture to shed any light
    Don’t do as I say, do as I do
    and then you can be a Pharisee too.

  2. Nice poetry, Matthew. Yes, we need to practice what we preach.

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