The popular Gospel hymn universally sung by the faithful begins with an earnest prayer to be a “Christian” in-a-my heart, and concludes by asking that we be “like Jesus.” We are now living in a culture where these two are no longer the same. It is possible in many circles to pass muster as a “Christian” without resemblance to the Jesus who said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8)?

In what ways (or not) is this true in your experience? What opportunities and/or challenges does this present for churches? What are the implications for Christianity if the Christ for whom the religion is named is more of a cultural icon than the one whose path to new life entails losing one’s life in order to find it.

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