I skated with one leg while dragging the other a full mile-and-a-half back to my car. It was mosquito season and a small nation of them suddenly realized the picnic of my body. I looked like one of those beekeepers in the Guinness Book of World Records, but without the sense of accomplishment. Every time I approached an elderly speed-walker or a training-wheel child, their eyes grew wide in horror. One mother shielded her child’s face from looking directly at me and, if I am not mistaken, assumed I was a horseman of the coming apocalypse. I probably should have said “help” to one or more of these people. Instead, to each of them, I uttered the same word:

“Sorry.”

Once home, I stood in my shower while one of my roommates threw large cupfuls of hydrogen peroxide at my body and I bit down on a pencil.

Great pain. Great scars.

And I had thought I was prepared.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is the difference between Christianish and Christ-follower. We have trained ourselves to cope well on a Christianish path: a path where we please the right godly people and don’t feel guilt when our failings are seen by the world at large. Yes, our methods work on this path—but it’s the wrong path. It’s not the approach to Jesus that we are supposed to take—that we are created to take.

So, we fall into confusion over why life doesn’t work and why our faith doesn’t feel right and why nothing true is coming from our so-called Christianity. We attempt to fix it by refining our current method. But here’s the catch: The method won’t work on the right road, because it is a method built for the wrong road.

We cannot change the dysfunction of our Christian walk by simply trying to become better at the wrong we are already living.

We must switch roads. And, in switching, we must discover the new method of living that truly works on the right road.

There is only one way for me to discover the right way to travel the right road.

The way is not a church.

The way is not an ideology.

The way is not a Christian.

The way is Jesus.

In my path of becoming functional in a dysfunctional faith, I crashed and burned quite often. I became and remained the lukewarm that gets spit out. The vomit to which the dog returns. The goat that was separated from the sheep. I nodded and even verbalized amen at each and every one of those stories, tsk-tsking internally at the target of the moral, never once interpreting that the antagonist might just be me.

I was at risk of becoming the one at the pearly gate whom the very Jesus I thought I was serving says He never knew. I lost the plot altogether, grasping at the path toward eternity that fit most nicely into my temporal goals.

FROM CHRISTIANISH TO CHRIST-FOLLOWER

So, the question begs: How does the transformation begin? From Christianish to Christ-follower. What is the road? And what is the method? It is certainly a painful road. A gravel-laden path that requires going back to the very beginning and digging deep into Jesus’ words and actions during the time He walked and breathed on planet Earth.

When you look at the New Testament from the Jesus perspective, it breaks down quickly into eleven key components of His history:

1. How He came into the world.
2. How He was tempted.
3. How His enemies responded to Him.
4. How He ministered to the common man.
5. How He made His living.
6. How He responded to His enemies.
7. How His friends responded to Him.
8. How He loved.
9. How He performed miracles.
10. How He died.
11. How He left.

The truth is here—not merely in the verses we have memorized, but in the manner in which the Savior spent His days. For me to become the true definition of a Christian, it will require breaking His thoughts down—and being willing to transform my own behavior into what I discover. It will require facing the music—and then doing something about it. It will require unlearning and baby steps. I have no idea what that sort of experiment will entail.