Fellowship of the Unashamed.
The author is unknown, but is believed to be a young pastor in Zimbabwe who was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. It was found in his study:
“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit’s power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made — I’m a disciple of his. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.”
“I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in his presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.”
“My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifices, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.”
“I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me … my banner will be clear.”
For some reason the memory of these words came to my mind on this independence day.
I want independence and freedom from shallow religion and church in a box. What I call “churchianity” – a focus on beliefs, the next life, and worship just as a Sunday morning activity (and a host of other things) has made Christianity unrecognizable, in many ways, from the early Christian movement.
Sometimes, in fact, I’m embarrassed to call myself a Christian – for all the hate, anger, judgement, violence, arrogance, hypocrisy, and lack of transformation associated with being one.
It’s not about being a believer. It’s not about beliefs. It’s not about doctrine. It’s not about theology. It’s about action and following the way of Jesus. We can believe all the right things, but if we haven’t loved, if we haven’t expressed the love that we are through actions, words, behaviors, then as Paul said, we are nothing.
The earliest followers were not called believers. It wasn’t that simple. It wasn’t dualistic. The world wasn’t separated into the “ins” and the “outs”. They were simply called followers of THE WAY. It was about following the way of the Master. It was their radical love, in the way of Jesus, that changed the world and turned it upside down.
So don’t call me a believer. Don’t call me a Christian. Call me a follower. A follower of Christ, a follower of the way, a disciple – a student and lifelong learner of the Master. And may anything that stands in the way of my being that, dissolve and disappear as I’m transformed more and more into the image of Christ – love itself and love expressed in and through my life.
I am often ashamed of the watered down, shallow, untransformative, modern day gospel of modern believers. I am not ashamed of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ that those first followers of the way knew and lived.
I have a long way to go, but I’m on The Way.