I’m fascinated with people. As I travel around the world, I get to meet many Christians. Over the last number of years, I have begun to notice, after listening to people talk about God, that there are two flavors of those who call themselves Christians.
The word “fan” comes to mind when describing the first group. These people are very interested in Christianity and love to discuss theology, doctrine, and history. These Christians are wonderful people, who enjoy talking to others about the faith, attend conferences, watch Christian TV, and listen to Christian radio. All of these activities are wonderful and great for growing spiritually.
The word that comes to mind when describing the second group is “follower.” These people usually participate in most of the activities of the first group, but there is something different about them. They speak of Jesus as though they know Him and are actively following Him. Their daily life speaks more of relationship than a desire to consume all things Christian. The “followers” of Jesus have completely committed themselves to become like Jesus, both in word and deed. These people don’t just believe in Jesus, they are disciples of Him and they carry His fragrance with them wherever they go.
The life of an active follower of Jesus will look and sound different than those who are merely enthusiastic about Christianity. There is a tone to their life that separates them from the pack. As you listen to them talk and watch the way they live, you soon realize that Jesus is the center of their life and that they live as though He is living in them – animating them in all they say and do.
In short, there appears to be a difference between a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. The follower of Jesus is a unique person. Yes, the follower of Jesus will study the Bible, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, consume new books that come out, and they may even watch Christian TV and listen to Christian radio, but still, there is something different about them.
The follower of Jesus is constantly aware of what St. Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Every activity of the follower’s life – their speech, their conduct, the way they treat people, the way they encounter pain in the world – all reflect the fact that they are being led by Jesus who resides inside them.
The tone of the followers’ lives also reflects the fact that they have thoroughly learned and adopted Jesus’ worldview, but they don’t stop there! They look for opportunities to put His will into practice throughout their day. They continuously carry in their heart an awareness that they are one with Jesus and He is carrying on His ministry and mission in them, as if He didn’t miss a beat after He ascended to heaven.
From morning to night, the disciple’s life beats in unison with Jesus, and all of his/her studies act as fuel for a relationship with Him. Christianity without relationship with Jesus is merely dry religion that rarely produces fruit. Dry religion will never attract the world. Those who go by the name “Christian” but don’t put their faith into practice have turned many off. Yes, many believe in Jesus, but their belief has not influenced the way they live, the way they treat people, nor has their belief transformed their personality.
The key to a beautifully transformed life is not merely attending the right adult education program or reading the latest best-seller. The key to a transformed life in Christ is spending massive amounts of time with Jesus through Bible study, prayer, and adoration. A transformed life is the result of participating in the sacraments and learning how to stay connected to Jesus throughout every day.
There is something beautiful about a person who is completely given over to Christ. The simplicity of their passion is attractive, and their transformed temperament and kindness has a way of breaking through the monotony of life and grabs your attention. Mother Teresa and St. John Paul II lived such a life. You can live this life as well. You can become a modern-day disciple and experience the thrill of following Jesus. Following Jesus as a disciple is way better than anything you could come up with on your own. Try it!
Join Jeff Cavins at the 2016 Defending the Faith Conference, where he will explain how to become and live as a modern-day disciple of Jesus.