For more info on why I’m writing these letters and how I plan to use them, click here.
There are a few main things I hope your dad and I have taught you well so far:
– God created you. He has a purpose and plan for your life.
– God/Jesus loves you. We love you. Unconditionally.
– He wants an open and honest relationship with you. And so do we.
But I also want to teach you a little bit about the label “Christian.”
As you know, our Pastor Andy has a way with words. He’s doing a sermon series right now that I want to bottle up and remember word for word. I’ve never been very good at the word for word thing, so I’m going to summarize and add some of my own words (that’s the next best thing, right?).
In asking someone to define the word “Christians” you are likely to get a completely different response every single time. Many people believe that “Christian” is synonymous “homophobic, judgmental, non-educated/ignorant hypocrites (usually from the south!) who believe they have the literal and figurative high ground at all times, in all situations.”
I used to believe that as well. And unfortunately there are far too many self-proclaimed “Christians” who perpetuate this stereotype.
The term Christians is only used 3 times in the Bible. It was a term used by outsiders to describe the folks who were part of this new spin off of Judaism… this weird cult who followed a man named Jesus. The term was (and often still is) derogatory. However, they actually called themselves “followers of the Way” or “Disciples.” Andy points out that these words carry more weight and responsibility: they mean you have to follow Jesus. They mean you have to live as He lived and love as he loved. That is your dad and I’s hope for you. We want you to not just believe and call yourself a Christian. We want you to behave like a disciple.
If “Christians” had actually been “Disciples” there would have been fewer or even no wars, no slavery, and no civil rights movement (because we wouldn’t have needed one). If our ancestors and if present day Christians loved as Jesus did, our world would be a much more peaceful and harmonious place.
But there are Christians who love well. There are Christians who do as Jesus told his disciples to do the night before he was murdered: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciple.” –John 13:35
It is my belief that we best teach by example, but I want to say it too: love. one. another.
I love you Caleb.