by Maxie Dunnam
for the Wesleyan Accent
a resource of World Methodist Evangelism
Christians are “little Christs.” Being Christian is being Christ in the world. What Christ has been and done for us, as Christians we must be and do for the others. We must live as Christ in our daily relationships.
If my expression, “little Christ,” is new to you, maybe even a bit troubling, I remind you that Martin Luther was convinced that Christians are to be “little Christs.” We Christians are to be a continuation of the Incarnation.
The apostle Paul talked about the Church being the Body of Christ – a continuation of the incarnation. He expressed it concretely, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, … and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 18 NKJV). What Christ has been and done for us, as Christians we must be and do for the world.
What does it mean to communicate Christ’s presence to others, to be “little Christs” to the world? Two biblical images are useful: disciple and pilgrim.
As disciples, we are apprenticed to our Master, Jesus Christ. A disciple is a learner, not in an academic sort of way, but in the same way that one is an apprentice to a craft-person; learning the craft at the work site while doing the actual work. So, as Christians, we are always in a growing-learning relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pilgrim adds to the meaning of being a disciple because it suggests that we are going someplace; we are on a journey. We are journeying to God, and on that journey we walk in the company of Jesus, who is our guide.
Jesus expressed it emphatically: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). When Jesus wanted to define the meaning of discipleship, he asked people to grow and go with Him.
A story in the New Testament clarifies this call of Jesus. A young rich man, a ruler of the people, came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He responded that he had kept the commandments; that was the desire of his life, and he was committed to doing that. But Jesus, always perceptive about persons, made this piercing observation, “You lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Then he added this invitation, “Come, follow me.” (Luke 18:18-22 MKJV)
The call is clear – it is a call to be a pilgrim, to walk with Jesus, to be his disciple.