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I am finding it increasingly difficult to refer to myself as a “Christian” these days. The ‘pride’ I once felt when owning that designation has slowly given way to a sense of awkwardness. Whenever I am referred to as a Christian, I become defensive and feel that I should have the right to state my case.

It’s a kind of “spiritual paranoia”!!

The fact is that this word, “Christian”, has lost much of its original significance. It has become so elastic that it is virtually useless as a tool for communication. It now means something different to a whole range people.

  1. It may mean the distinction between, say, ‘Christian’ and ‘Buddhist’ 

  2. It may have taken on political overtones at a national and/or international level and have compromised ‘speaking the truth in love.

So, in general conversation, whenever the word “Christian” is being used, I want to make sure that the parties concerned are on the same page, let alone in the same library!

Having said that, I have to say that I think the word “Christian” is probably irrecoverable. It is too far gone to make any effective contribution to religious discussion.

So, do I have an alternate word or phrase that might substitute for Christian?

I would offer, “Jesus’ follower”. It doesn’t slip off the tongue quite as easily as “Christian” but it does have the advantage of quickly challenging the ‘organisational dimension’ of “Christian” and it places the emphasis where it ought to be – the relational  nature of being a Christian – a follower of Jesus.

I’m sure you will get a different reaction when you identify yourself as a Jesus’ follower than you get when you say you are a Christian?

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