Bill Hull, author of Choose The Life offers a compelling argument for what it means to be Christian:
An interesting discussion that won’t take place here is why the word Christian won in general usage over Disciple. Christian used three times in the New Testament has been preferred over Disciple, used 269 times. Christian seems to be a word that has lost its meaning more so than those who think Disciple is passé. It seems that outside the Church Christians are thought of as intolerant, even hateful, they are critics and judges. It is a title that has disappeared into the fog of Western culture to define religious origin. Inside the Church, Christian has become a word that describes agreement with a set of religious ideas; it does not require action or movement. Some evangelical leaders don’t like Disciple because it sounds too demanding, too tired and out of reach for the seekers. This is not a call for the elimination of the word Christian; it is a call to recapture the richness of the word Disciple and how a change in language can be a change in mind set and then behavior.
Disciple is a robust word; it calls upon a person to give an answer to God, to do something, to follow and in doing so create an opportunity for transformation. Answering the call to discipleship means positioning oneself for spiritual formation. It requires intentionality, self-denial, and commitment to follow Jesus wherever He leads.
As Bonhoeffer aptly stated, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” This really comes down to how members of the Church view themselves. Are we primarily members of an organization by belief or doctrine alone, or is the expectation that we are obedient followers of Jesus ready for a life of spiritual sacrifice?
This redefinition requires a change in the way we see ourselves.