Call Yourself a “Christian”?

What does it mean to "follow after Jesus" as opposed to simply being a "Christian"?  Carl Medearis has some thought-provoking ideas.

What does it mean to “follow after Jesus” as opposed to simply being a “Christian”? Carl Medearis has some thought-provoking ideas.

If you call yourself a “Christian”, what do you mean by that? For some, being a “Christian” is something you inherit from your parents. For others, “Christian” is a political label. Does the word “Christian” communicate something you really mean to say?

I have a missionary friend of mine who supports the ministry of Carl Medearis. I had heard of Medearis before, and I have a book by him in my library that remains unread, Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships. Like many folks today with tight schedules, I simply have not had the time to read the book. But I am a cheap guy, and so when my missionary friend sent me a link to download a **FREE** copy of Medearis’ latest book as part of a limited time offer, I thought “Sure, I’ll get it…. but I’ll probably never read it.” So I downloaded an electronic copy of Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism. It is a fairly small book, so I just happened to glance at the title of the last chapter, “Gays, Liberals, and Muslims“….. Say whaa??

I read that last chapter and I was hooked. But do not let me spoil it for you. Check it out and/or the rest of Carl’s ministry yourself. Carl Medearis is very creative, and so you may not agree with everything he says (more on that some other time), but he will make you think.

Carl Medearis has a very interesting story. He, his wife, and three kids lived in Beirut, Lebanon for 12 years. They got to meet a lot of Muslims. They got to understand a lot of Muslims. They also began to learn a lot about how many Muslims understand Christianity. Carl began to realize that “Christianity” and “following after Jesus” are not always the same thing. Here is a brief video with Carl that explores the problems with the word “Christian”.

There is a lot to unpack about what Carl is saying as he himself “unpacks” what he says in the video. Too much can be said in just one blog post, so I’ll just follow up later. What do you think? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.

HT: Scott Gore

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

5 responses to “Call Yourself a “Christian”?

  • fred nice

    interesting clarke……didn’t seem too controversial in this clip.

    • Clarke Morledge

      Fred,

      Perhaps the Muslim context for Carl Medearis seems remote to many of us. But the idea of someone from a Muslim-background to stay in their mosque and still “follow Jesus” is a pretty controversial idea, particularly among Christian missionaries serving in the Islamic world.

      Let me bring it home a little bit. Suppose I had a friend at work from a Muslim-background who showed interest in “following Jesus”. Let’s say I am having a conversation with him about Christ and then his iPhone rings, reminding him of the call to pray. He excuses himself for a few minutes as he pulls out his prayer rug, kneels and prostrates himself towards Mecca.

      Honestly, I am not sure exactly how I would handle that. But I can guarantee you that I have at least one or two Christian friends of mine, who if they saw something like this, would quietly later that evening check to make sure that their concealed weapons permit is still valid.

      Something to consider….

      Clarke

    • John Paine

      The best ‘weapon’ we have is kindness. “…, but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15b, NIV84). I love how perfectly clear the Apostle Paul makes his point. When? Always. To whom? Everyone (not just ‘us’).

  • John Paine

    On one hand we have Paul trying to be all things to all people so that he might reach some, so there is a biblical pattern for having situational awareness about our witnessing. On the other hand when we do use the ‘C’ word we can invoke the shortcomings of everyone from the Crusaders to television charlatans to just about any unfortunate soul who rubbed the hearer the wrong way. Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount that we would be blessed when men revile us because of Him. The important part is to model and witness, not to shoot ourselves in the foot with a label. It takes some thought and tact to do this without abandoning any values or principles, but that’s the point of this post. Well done. Thanks!

  • Feeling Like a Zero | Veracity

    […] the wake of current tensions in Egypt, Syria, and Iran, Carl Medearis has been getting me to rethink some things here on Veracity.   If you know of anyone who has done missionary work among Muslims, you will learn from them that […]

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