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Thursday, October 29, 2009


"Salvation is free. Discipleship will cost you your life."
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer


The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.
~ Numbers 26:59 (NKJV)

And God said to Abraham: "... This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised ... and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised ..."
~ Genesis 17:9-12 (NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
~ Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

Movies such as "Ten Commandments" and "Prince of Egypt" dramatize how Moses might learn he was Hebrew. My own theory is that his parents made his identity clear.

Moses was nursed by his own mother. Children of biblical times and culture were typically nursed three years—old enough for his mother to make sure he knew who he was. And his father would have circumcised Moses—the unmistakable, irreversible mark of a Hebrew.

Circumcision was not a practice of Egyptians, nor was sufficient privacy among males for Moses' identity to be hidden. For the Hebrews then and for Jews of every era, circumcision is the single common mark of identity among all males.

Christians are usually identified based on things like they go to church, regularly read and know the Bible, uphold certain standards, and affirm belief in Jesus as Savior. While such practices are common to Christians, all of them may also be practiced as mere religion—an outward mark.

My pastor, Dean Stewart, defines that those who truly belong to Jesus are His disciples, and therefore His followers. Pastor Dean says followers will be characterized by things such as:

• Followers are responsive to Christ's voice.
• Followers are recognized by their appetite and passion to be more like Jesus as they learn His mind and practice His ways.
• Followers are worshipers whose eyes have been opened to see a glimpse of our Lord's greatness, glory and holiness.

The classic poser asks, "If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be sufficient evidence to convict you?"

I ask today, what criteria do you think sufficient to positively identity a person as a follower of Christ?

Lord Jesus, I ask You to speak to our hearts, to show each of us if we have honored You in making clear that we follow You, and to show how we might follow You more closely.

NOTE: Please see my comment of 10:08, below, concerning motive in asking this question.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. You know, I can't honestly say that I would presume to know someone is a Christian. To be a true follower of Christ I would want to see a level of peace and kindness about them. Unfortunately I see as much discourse among his followers at times as I do in the secular world. I suppose I would have to take them at their word, catch a glimpse of Christ's heart in them and be satisfied with that. What I would love to see however is passion. The exuberance of the Holy Spirit pulsating out of them.

    Interesting question Anne.

  2. Love. I believe it's the answer for so much, including the answer to this question. What does love look like? A forgiving spirit, unwilling to give up too quickly (patience), humility, honesty...some of my thoughts.

    Surprised to see some of the ususual suspects hanging around on your blog. :D I once wrote a post about how when I write, I'm like Verbal Kint, picking up on every conversation and detail, potentially using them in my work.

    Thanks for sparking a needed thought.
    ~ Wendy

  3. Hey Anne,

    Because I lived, worked, and was married to my German bride in Berlin, Bonhoeffer has always been of special interest to me.

    There are so many avenues to approach your question above, but in the end I believe it boils down to our hearts . . . motive. Not what we do, but why we do it.

    And, only God can accurately judge motive.

    We follow Christ when we surrender self-interest, when we no longer follow our own desires.

    A better question might be: Do any of us really follow Christ?

  4. May I clarify, I never, ever ask such questions to provoke anyone to have a judgmental spirit of others. As I ask today, I'm hoping people will be discerning in a couple of ways that DO require us to evaluate this issue:

    The first person I ask this of is myself—does the way I live my life have a testimony of following Christ?

    When we choose to establish close relationships with people who will influence us—and especially for those thinking about future marriage—how does another person show they have a heart for the Lord? They may talk the talk, but how do they show they walk the walk, if it's not measured by mere religion?

  5. T. Anne, I think "catch a glimpse of Christ's heart in them" exactly captures the heart of a follower, because it shows Christ in us.

    Wendy, I have more to say about love, and I'm thinking it will be tomorrow's post. Would you believe this was the only decent lineup photo I could come up with? I'm clueless about the T.V. show, and hold my breath wondering what impression the photo makes.

    Russell, I love the words, "when we surrender self-interest, when we no longer follow our own desires." Surrender is a vital concept to me. And even if we follow like Peter—not always a rock but learning to be one—but I do think it's possible to be a true follower.

  6. "They may talk the talk, but how do they show they walk the walk, if it's not measured by mere religion?"

    By their fruit you will recognize them. - Matthew 7:16

    Also, I like how you reframe the question in the context of how should we discern who we might associate with . . . marriage for example.

    This morning I was reading 1 Cor. 5. And, it seems to indicate how we approach relationships outside the Church and within the Body of Christ, as two separate things.

    But, as you alluded to above and have said in prior posts, we strive to do everything in a spirit of love and out of faith...

    . . . personally, if I held myself out to my faith community for judgement, I'd have few friends . . . :-)

    Thanks Anne.

  7. NO

    That's for the Lord. Or, in VERY extreme situations, church elders.

    1 Corinthians 5? That's one of the toughest passages in all of Scripture to even attempt to live out.

    Thanks to you too, Russell.

  8. Hi Anne -

    As you've noted, it's hard to walk the line between discernment and judgment. But we MUST ask these questions if we are to understand how to teach our own hearts and to encourage others in their own walks.

    Love. Honesty. I've seen more of the first than the second in Christian churches. We need to work as a community on encouraging one another towards more honesty and transparency with ourselves and others. The best way to encourage honesty is to practice it ourselves. The healthiest Christian communities I know are the ones in which authority figures confess that they too, are striving to overcome challenges and temptations.

  9. Rosslyn, your comment has refreshed me. Thank you for the blessing. It's so hard to succinctly yet adequately present on a page the balance in my heart.

    As for honesty, I don't think the damage of even small lies can be taken too seriously. Jesus said the devil is the father of lies. The very first piece of our spiritual armor—the belt which holds everything else together—is truth.

  10. Anne

    Hmmm? Followers of Christ?
    Didn’t many follow Jesus? For awhile? Till things got tough?
    Do we really want to be a “disciple of Christ?”
    It’s easy to say yes in the beginning, then the journey begins.
    As Bonhoeffer said, “it will cost you your life.”
    How many are willing to count that cost?

    Could this be some criteria for identifying a “disciple of Christ?”

    The “disciples of Christ.”
    The “ekklesia of God.”
    The “sons of God.”
    Forsake all...
    Love not the world...
    Not exercise authority...
    Not lord it over others...
    Love not their own life...
    Speak the truth in love...
    Just want to know Him...
    Count all things but dung...
    Not be called rabbi/teacher...
    Not be called master/leader...
    Always take the lower place...
    Make themselves of no reputation...
    Gives thanks for all things... All things? Yes.
    Deny themselves and pick up their cross daily...
    Counts all the shame, “joy,” for what lies before them...
    Love the Lord their God, love their neighbors, love themselves...
    Forsake all honor, glory, praise, power, profit, prestige, recognition, reputation...

    Like the early believers, they are called out of “the religious system of the day”
    into a relationship with Jesus Christ. They follow and obey Jesus.
    The early disciples observed first hand the relationship Jesus had with His Father.
    They witnessed a God/man deny Himself and rely on His Father in the unseen realm of Spirit.

    The “disciples of Christ,” today, will also learn to trust in the indwelling Christ.
    The “disciples of Christ,” will be led by the Spirit. The Lord directing their steps.
    They will obey “His Voice”and “all” will be taught of God. Jn 6:45
    They will go out, not knowing where they are going. Heb 11:8
    They will hear His voice and not harden their hearts. Heb 3:15
    They will obey His Voice and He will be their God. Jer 7:23
    They will walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7

    The “disciples of Christ,” are “the called out one’s,” the ekklesia, the Church.
    Jesus is the head of the body (the ekklesia, the called out one's), the church.
    They are “called out of the religious system” into a relationship with Jesus.
    They are “called out of the worlds system” into the Kingdom of God.
    They are "called out of self" into the body of Christ.
    They are “called out of sin” into righteousness.
    They are “called out of bondage” into liberty.
    They are “called out of darkness” into light.
    They are “called out of death” into life.

    Yes Anne - Will there be enough evidence to convict us?
    Yes Russel - Do any of us really follow Christ?

  11. A. Amos Love, thank you for all the time you put into such a thoughtful comment. I'm particularly fond of the "called out" statements, as reminders of not only where we've been, but (more importantly), where God enables us to be.

  12. I came back to read the continuation of these thoughts. This very topic has been impressing on me a great deal lately, after someone asked me a specific similar question at Bible study weeks ago. They asked if a particular family member of mine was a Christian/was "saved". That is for God to discern, but it conjured up dozens of questions in me. Someone mentioned fruit. Other comments were thrown out. And still I am in conversation/prayer with God about it.

    This has been fascinating to read and I've been thankful for the ways in which you've pointed to Christ on this blog.
    ~ Wendy

  13. Wendy, I'm glad you felt this worthwhile. For a moment this morning, I was tempted to pull this post rather than have anyone use my words as an excuse to judge others. I think that might have been the enemy, and after some prayer I decided to allow the discussion to run its course.

    Denise, I'm glad you made it. Take care of yourself, Sweetheart.


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