Sunday, April 10, 2016

Followers and Believers

There is a deep divide between two vastly different ways of viewing Jesus.  On both sides of this chasm, people refer to themselves as Christians, avow the apostles creed, profess to believe in Jesus, and place a high value on the Bible. Both groups on the surface can appear to be of one mind, but scratching even a little below the surface reveals the opposing views. 

One view holds a focus on the earthly life of Jesus.  They believe that the words of Jesus were intended to give us direction for living, and that the life of Jesus was intended as an example for us to follow. Salvation is described with words like “following Jesus” and “making Jesus Lord”, and the goal is doing what Jesus would do. These people define a Christian as someone who is Christ-like.

The other view holds a focus on the sacrificial death, and resurrected life of Jesus. They believe that the words of Jesus were for an intended audience, and were designed to reveal to men their need for a Savior. Salvation is viewed as a gift to be received, and is described with words like “grace”, and “gift”, and the focus is on the completed work of Jesus.  The goal is the life of Christ manifested within us.  These people define a Christian as someone who has put their trust in the completed work of Jesus.

We need better terminology to distinguish between these two groups. I propose Followers and Believers.

Myself, I’m a Believer. My ability to adequately follow has proved erratic at best. My need for a Savior is self-evident. I believe that Jesus plus nothing equals everything.  I have freely received the gift, and I am trusting him to complete the work that he began in me. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

“The life of grace is not an effort on our part to achieve a goal we set ourselves. It is a continually renewed attempt simply to believe that someone else has done all the achieving that is needed and to live in relationship with that person, whether we achieve or not. If that doesn’t seem like much to you, you’re right: it isn’t. And, as a matter of fact, the life of grace is even less than that. It’s not even our life at all, but the life of that Someone Else rising like a tide in the ruins of our death.”                       – Robert Capon