Every once in awhile a little rant is called for. So here’s mine.

What ever happened to being called a Christian? Did I miss the ecumenical council that decreed the phrase “Christ follower” or “Jesus-disciple” be used for churchgoers under the age of 40? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a “Christ follower” or a “Jesus-disciple.” You can be a part of “Team Jesus” or walk in the “way of Rabbi Yeshua” if that floats your boat. There are plenty of justifiable phrases to go around.

Provided we don’t pick our phrases in order to avoid necessary unpleasantries.

I understand that “Christian” may feel stale, and that it carries baggage with some people. But the label is biblical (Acts 11:26). And the baggage is sometimes unavoidable. If you want to be a “follower of Jesus” instead of a “Christian” because the former implies only ethical emulation, while the latter suggests doctrinal and institutional commitment, then you need to check your motives not the baggage. Again, I don’t have a problem using “disciple of Jesus” to spice things up a bit. A phrase like that may even be prudent in extreme situations of persecution. But if we in North America are using it just to be trendy, or to gut Christianity of its theological center, or to simply avoid being one of those guys, we should really take a deep breath and learn to live with a term that’s been around since first century Antioch.

And while I’m at it, we should also be careful that we don’t make everything about “Jesus.” (Wait a second, did he just say that?!) Let me explain. I love Jesus. I love to pray to Jesus. I love to say the name “Jesus” in my sermons, a lot. I talk about following Jesus, worshiping Jesus, believing in Jesus, and having a big, glorious Jesus. No apologies necessary for saying “Jesus.” But then one time an older member of our congregation asked why I didn’t say “Christ” more often. I had never really thought about it before. I guess “Jesus” just packs a little more punch, has a little more edge, sounds a little fresher than Christ or Lord or the Son of God.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with referencing “Jesus.” The gospels do it a whole bunch. But we must not forget–and we must help our younger listeners remember–that we are not merely followers of a man named Jesus. We worship the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are disciples of this man Jesus, but this man is also our Savior and God. He is, after all, more than a carpenter.

Following Jesus is a movement. Believing in Christ is a faith. Let’s make sure we don’t have the first sentence without the second.

Don’t ditch the name that marks us out as his. Ain’t no shame in being called a Christian.