In 1956, five young American missionaries were speared to death in the Amazonian jungles of Ecuador. They each left behind a wife, and almost all left behind children. When the Huaorani attacked them, they could have fought back and most likely won. They had in their possession rifles, which could have easily given them the victory. But they chose not to fight back. Why? They had each decided that, if attacked, they would not use their weapons, because they were ready to go to heaven, but their attackers did not know Jesus and were not prepared to die. These young men were true Christians, disciples of the Lord Jesus.
The word “Christian” is a beautiful word, and it is no wonder that it has become the word of choice to describe those who claim allegiance to Christ. This beautiful word has two primary meanings: first, it literally means “of and belonging to Christ.” Second, it has been defined as “being like Christ.” Isn’t it wonderful that we who have followed Jesus are “of” Him? We are begotten of the Word and born of the Spirit. And all who embrace His grace have a deep desire to truly be like Jesus in our words, our walk and our work.
As wonderfully appropriate as the word “Christian” is to describe the followers of Christ, it seems that it is not the preferred word of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the word “Christian” or “Christians” only appears three times in the whole of the Word of God.
However, the inspired writers of the Bible used the terms “disciple” or “disciples” some 272 times in the New Testament alone. A disciple is one who is a pupil, a learner, an adherent, a follower, an imitator. Jesus calls each of us to learn his ways and then to imitate Him by putting His teaching to work in our everyday living. “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1).
The young men who chose to lose their lives in an attempt to reach the Huaorani Indians with the gospel believed the words of Jesus, “Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). They did not just claim to believe it, they imitated Jesus with their actions and by their death, they became the catalyst for a great revival among that tribe. Some of their family, including Jim Elliot’s wife, Elisabeth, and daughter, returned to live with the very natives that murdered them and as a result of their work, the whole tribe converted to Christ. As Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
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SOURCE: Charisma, Keith Nix