I understand that many will be surprised, if not shocked by my announcement. This decision was not made without careful consideration. As a matter of fact, I had given the issue a lot of thought before reaching my conclusion.
So, yeah. I’ve decided that I no longer wish to be considered Christian. Let me explain.
Historically speaking, the “Christian” has not always enjoyed a good reputation. During the Middle Ages, “Christians” waged military campaigns against Muslims in an effort to recapture Jerusalem. As a result, many Muslims were brutally tortured and killed. Stories of the horror they faced are still told among Muslims today. It may explain why we occasionally read of clashes between Muslims and Christians, like recently in Nigeria. In no way do I wish to be associated with that group of “Christians” from the Middle Ages.
Even in the recent past, “Christians” have resorted to violence to demonstrate their positions. Take, for example, the “Troubles” between Roman Catholic “Christians” and Protestant “Christians” in Ireland. These violent conflicts have led to the vast destruction of private property, injury, displacement, and multiplied deaths of innocent people. I would like to distance myself from their type of “Christianity.”
Here in the U.S., the word “Christian” can come with some significant baggage. In politics, the “left” sees Evangelical “Christians” as a voting force that turns a deaf hear to the needs of the marginalized of our society. Instead, Christians are known to rally behind almost any leader who caters to their political view, or, who simply calls him or herself a Christian. I don’t want to be included in that group, since my citizenship is from above.
“Christians” are also known in American to be some of the most patriotic citizens. Although this isn’t in itself morally wrong, there has been for a long time an attitude that the U.S. is “God’s Country.” Therefore, any enemy of America is an enemy of God. “Christians” are often the first to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and the first to decry any who won’t honor the National Anthem. I’ve even heard some Christians call to “bomb the hell out” of any enemy of the red, white, and blue. It seems that they have forgotten that Jesus, the leader of the Christian movement, claimed that He was not the king of any country of this world (John 18:36). If being a “Christian” means one must view US citizens as greater than other people, then I would prefer not to be numbered among that group.
Beyond political arguments, here in the U.S.A. if you turn on the TV you’ll likely find a “Christian” preacher making all kinds of promises if you send him or her some money. This preacher often lives extravagantly, and builds enormous church buildings. That seems like a far cry from Jesus who was homeless (Matt 8:20), or Peter who had no money as he went to the temple to pray (Acts 3:6). Although it’s not wrong for a preacher to have money, I have encountered many non-believers who revile this type of “Christianity” as being hypocritical. I wish not to be counted as a hypocritical Christian.
We also have Christian Book Stores, Christian Radio, Christian clothing brands, Christian concerts, and about anything else that can be marketed as “Christian.”
I’ve grown weary of all this.
Several years ago, I stopped introducing myself to the inmates at the jail, where I teach Bible studies, as a Christian. Instead, I prefer to simply call myself a ‘follower of Jesus.’ I think that better captures what I’m trying to do and be.
To me, a follower of Jesus sounds more simple, and less marketed. It also sound less violent and non-political. Being a follower of Jesus means that I’m a guy who is doing his best to follow the teachings of his God, who had became one of us.
So, from now on, I’d like to be considered a follower of Jesus rather than a Christian. Maybe you’d like to be a follower of Jesus, too?