I Quit Being A Christian So I Could Follow Jesus
My two teenage daughters’ music is a strange and curious world for me to peek into. From a safe distance I am allowed to remain both cool and Dad, while indulging myself in their music. I don’t believe their music will ever be as classic as mine. Will anyone ever equal the soul of powerhouses like the Eagles, Boston, or Styx? Please. Of course, the term “classic” is painfully relative with my girls. They seem to relegate my world of classic to their definition of just plain old. That really hurts.
Occasionally, I attempt to dive into the world of new and hip music. Sometimes my oldest girls, Brooklynn and Lauren, even encourage my efforts. I don’t take this lightly. Entering the arena of my kids’ music is a journey onto holy ground. Somewhere along the way, my girls became guarded music snobs (One of them even wears a t-shirt which says: “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet.”).
Not too long ago, I was introduced to a new Minnesota-based band called Owl City. Approximately six months before the obnoxious masses discovered Adam Young and his retro-synth sound, all the Scotts were bopping in the minivan to his Owl City song, “Fireflies.” My ear-bud wearing teens enjoy reminding me of their ahead-of-the-curve musical unearthing every time “Fireflies” comes blaring through the radio.
When Adam Young and Owl City came to town, my girls graciously invited me to go to the concert with them. I was on to them. Their invitation was not as warm and fuzzy as it initially sounded. I was merely the free transportation needed. Because I actually began grooving to Owl City, I was quick to jump on this fun opportunity to hear a new band live, and spend some great time with kids I thoroughly enjoy.
The concert was held in a smaller, dark, cavernous, and extremely young venue in downtown Atlanta. A crowd of about 500 people gathered to thump along with Owl City. Of course, my daughters were beginning to wonder where all of these invasive people were coming from, because nobody else was supposed to know about this hidden pop sensation.
Did I mention the concert offered no seats for parents approaching fifty? About forty minutes before the final encore, I was ready for a REO Speedwagon ballad and bed. However, I didn’t want to leave without hearing the eventual Billboard Top 100 hit, “Fireflies.” With my car keys in hand, I finally heard the familiar synthesizer intro and Adam Young’s vocals energizing the teenage urban audience. “You would not believe your eyes, if ten million fireflies…”
Probably 20 seconds into the song, the band just stopped. Owl City arrogantly walked off the stage. Everyone thought it just a prankish taunt to manufacture another cheap encore. Nope. That was it. The lights went up and the concert was officially over. A stunned audience was trying to figure out what just happened. Most were convinced there was going to be more, and some even finished the song with an accapella, spontaneous, and off-pitch rendition. Although I was beyond ready to go home, I felt cheated. There really should have been more. A hungry audience wanted more. A dad out of his aging element wanted more.
Lately I’ve felt like being a modern day Christian has left me wanting more — me and a growing constituency of “others.” My suburban, American world has a finely-developed and lucrative subculture of what a Christian should look like, wear, listen to, read, and decorate his or her car with. Sometimes, because even our corporate, Christian gatherings have become so predictably programmed, I’ve questioned if God has left us to drown in our own designs. Meanwhile, He’s moved on to oversee some really cool things in places like China.
I titled this book with a hopeful edge because I wanted to connect with someone like you who has some of these same internal groans. I actually like the term “Christian; its what this patently Biblical word has become that pains me. Church people in the first century were called Christians first in a city named Antioch (Acts 11:26). They wore the name of Christ with Godly pride, personal conviction, and the very real threat of death.
People these days don’t see Christians as such. We’re being labeled as bubble-dwelling, homophobic, hard-to-get-along-with, conservative, non-relevant jerks. It seems our beloved title of “Christian” has been hi-jacked not by masked terrorists, but rather by half-hearted believers who like Jesus as Savior but not specifically as Lord and Master.
I’m not completely sure of what strategies need to be employed to battle this sad maligning. So in the mean time, I have quit being a “Christian,” and hope to simply follow Jesus as Lord, Master, AND Savior. Reclaiming the life befitting the label won’t be an easy task, but practical help can be found within the amazing dynamics of the Bible. Specifically, I like what Dr. Luke writes in the New Testament. He seems to bring us back to powerful basics that help define both “Christian” and “Jesus Follower.”
I know there’s more. Don’t you really know this too? That fish on the back of your car really DOES mean something. Its purpose should be more than merely enticing someone to honk and wish you a nice day if, indeed, you didn’t just cut them off. The concert isn’t over. The best music — the music and song we long to hear — has not disappeared or been rerouted to China. We’ve just stepped strangely and temporarily off the stage. I sense God will forcedly or otherwise bring us back for an encore. Let’s scream, cheer, write, pray, search, and hunger until the real music plays again. That always-relevant encore will reverberate an opus for Christians and Jesus Followers everywhere to wear and live out, once again, the impeccable name of Jesus Christ.