In the part of the world where I live, most people call themselves Christians.
In many ways that’s a good thing because they at least know enough about Jesus to want to follow him.
But it also presents some problems.
When being a Christian becomes synonymous with a culture, or a country, or maybe a region of a country, people tend to forget what being a Christian really is.
I’m a Christian because, well, that’s what my parents were or because that’s what most people around me are.
The word can become empty, meaningless.
Jesus didn’t say much during his trial, but Mark was careful to preserve one of his short sayings.
This brief statement says a lot about what it means to follow Christ.
And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed (Mark 15:1-5).
He admitted that he was King of the Jews.
When he said that, he was identifying himself with the lineage of the kings of Judah; he was the “Son of David.”
But he was saying much more than that.
Paul would later describe him as the “King of the ages” (1 Timothy 1:17) and the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
He’s the “King of the nations” in John’s Revelation (15:3).
He’s not just the King of the Jews.
He’s your King.
He’s my King.
And I think that’s where people get confused about what it really means to be a Christian.
For some people it may be little more than identifying with the dominant religion where they live.
For others it might be having their names on a church roll or attending church services occasionally, or even regularly.
But that’s nowhere close to what it means to be a Christian.
Following Christ means he’s your King.
He’s claimed you and now rules your life. You’ve submitted to his authority, pledged your allegiance to his kingship, and bowed your knee before his throne.
Living in a part of the world where Christianity thrives has some wonderful opportunities.
But we need to be careful, because every day we’re tempted to let our Christianity be defined by something less than full commitment.
Let Jesus be your Savior, we’re told. Let him be a wonderful teacher. Even believe in him as God’s Son.
But Jesus claimed more than that.
When God raised him from the grave, he anointed Jesus as the King of kings.
And that means following Christ is more than what we call ourselves.
It’s submitting everything we are and will ever be to the Kingship of Jesus Christ.