October 19, 2005

Christ's Followers

1543 story1 caps I sat in the Sabbath afternoon service geared to "seekers," I couldn't help appreciating the freshness in which the music and message were presented. The music was upbeat and lively, yet it didn't take on a life of its own. Its purpose was to inspire and uplift. The message was thoughtful and engaging, yet it also became part of the whole worship experience. What I took away with me that day remains with me still. The pastor repeatedly called us Christians "Christ Followers."

To this day I can't explain why that phrase holds such power for me. One reason might be that as I've thought about it, the apostle Peter's confession of Christ penetrates my thoughts: "'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'You are the Christ'" (Mark 8:29, NIV).

The Christ. So definitive.

Maybe, too, it's because the phrase "Christ Follower" emits a much more active voice than the phrase "following Jesus," which in my mind carries the same passive sound as the phrase "following the crowd." Tagging along. Trailing behind. Sticking it out.

But Christ Follower. The 12 disciples were anything but passive. They didn't just tag along with Jesus for the ride. They intentionally left their current way of life to become a disciple--a student, learner, believer, supporter.

And I believe Christ calls us today to the same active discipleship. A discipleship in which we continually seek to understand through His Word the direction He wants to take our lives. A discipleship in which we stay close to Him so we can recognize His voice amid the clamor of all the other voices vying for our attention. A discipleship in which we live out in service to others the kindness, comfort, and love that we have so undeservedly received.

Beginning in January 2006, we hope to present to you a new issue of the Adventist Review that will highlight stories of Adventist Christians answering this call to active discipleship. We want this issue to be a source of inspiration and encouragement as you seek to find a way in which to share God's love with those in your world.

For the next three months, however, we are offering you three special issues that deal with various aspects of discipleship. In this October issue we will be sharing with you several stories of Christ Followers serving God and one another. In November we will share with you how prayer-filled living is part of active discipleship. Last, in December we will offer you guidance on how to discover God's will through studying His Word.

As you read these pages about Adventists engaging in active service, some of you may wonder, "What can I do?" "How can I serve?" We've placed a sampling of opportunities for service in the last four pages. We encourage you to read through them, and ask the Lord if you should pursue any of them.

What qualifies us to serve Christ? I believe Ellen White answers it quite well: "The question that Christ had put to Peter was significant. He mentioned only one condition of discipleship and service. 'Lovest thou Me?' He said. This is the essential qualification" (The Desire of Ages, p. 815).

That's a Christ Follower in action.