Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
I’ve noticed how being a follower of Christ or a Christ follower seems to be easier to say than a follower of Jesus. Why is this?
We had the privilege of attending the Global Leadership Summit last week at Willow Creek Community Church. This is a special and unique collection of some of the best resources in leadership development. Not all resources claim to be faith-based or to be Christians. I think this is terrific and adds to the DNA and genius of the Summit. However for those who do claim to be faith-based, it seems so difficult to use the name of Jesus. One of my friends, who is a big fan and financial supporter of the GLS said to me on the first day, “It seems like a Jesus-free zone!” By 3:30 that day, one of the speakers mentioned the name of Jesus, as if he knows him. It was beautiful!
On the second day, several referred to themselves as a follower of Christ or a Christ-follower, but only two of the speakers made it crystal clear about being a follower of Jesus.
So, why is it so easy to say “Christ” and so difficult to say “Jesus”? I want to make two observations here. FIRST: To be a follower of Christ doesn’t say much. Jesus says “there are many christs”, so to say it begs the question, “Which Christ?” Jesus didn’t make a big deal about it, but he did make a big deal about his name. In praying to the Father in John 17, Jesus says I gave the disciples your name, Father, and the name you gave me-Jesus. For some reason, his name, along with God’s name were most important to Jesus to make known to his early followers.
SECOND: Since there are many christs, to be a follower of Christ is so impersonal. It’s like saying, “I’m friends with the Prime Minister.” Or, “I’m friends with the Dr.” Big deal! But when I use the Prime Minister’s name, Tamrat of Ethiopia; that makes it personal. To use his name, Tamrat, let’s anyone know that we have a personal relationship. The same is true with Jesus. When you say, “I know Jesus” or “I am a follower of Jesus”, there’s something warm and personal about that reference.
I personally found it very difficult to say “Jesus” at first. It was because I knew a lot about him, but I didn’t know him well. You see, I want to talk about Jesus as if he’s my best friend, with whom I talk often. I want it to seem as if I just had breakfast with him this morning.
Often people respond to this with, “It’s just semantics!” No, I want to assure you that it’s not semantics; it’s personal! His name is Jesus.