A recent Barna poll revealed that young people today do not like the term “Christian.” They prefer other designations that describe the “Christian” lifestyle. It seems that “Christian” has fallen into disfavor because it creates negative images in the minds of many.

How sad, although I have a sense that the poll is accurate. Depiction of “Christian” people in the media graphically caricatures the worst in those of us who claim that title. Such images usually leave observers with a sour taste of hypocrisy, bigotry and a flavor of “fake” that turns the stomach. Unfortunately, upon close scrutiny, many of these representations are not far from the truth. Countless so-called Christians do not seem to display a significantly different lifestyle when compared to the pagan pool.

A preferred title among many young people who have committed their lives to Christ is “Christ follower.” I love this phrase! It, for me, captures the essence of a living relationship with the living Lord Christ. It is true to everything Jesus said and did as He called people to embrace Him as Savior. It was His favorite call to unbelievers-Come and follow Me.

The term Christ follower implies a commitment to a person and a way. It means that to choose Christ is to choose an ongoing experience with a person. It is not so much about making a decision as committing to a way of life. It is more than walking an aisle-it is walking an ever-winding path through life’s ups and downs. Christ followers experience a daily fellowship in the midst of followship.

A Christ follower does not have the option of talking the talk and not walking the walk. Every part of life is dictated by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. He is with you every part of every day. You cannot follow Him and at the same time leave Him at home when you choose to be deceptive, lie, cheat, steal or commit other immoral, unrighteous acts. That is not following.

Jesus had great crowds follow Him for short periods of time, and He would regularly test their commitment level. On one such occasion, after feeding the multitude, He turned to look them squarely in the eye and minced no words. If you are going to come after Me you must be willing to deny self and daily take up a cross and follow Me. That sounds like more than joining a church, being baptized or signing a card. He set the course without equivocation. To be a Christ follower, one must-well-follow Him.

It saddens me that the word Christian carries a bad connotation for so many. Yet, changing our lingo is often the first step in taking new strides forward. Our invitation to an unbeliever-whether in church, camp, restaurant or home-should always be an invitation to become a Christ follower. This requires a level of commitment beyond a casual walk in the park. It requires total surrender to the way of the Christ we follow.

Just call me a Christ follower.