Introduction: What Is a Christian? Ask ten different people and you'll probably get ten different answers: someone who goes to church every Sunday; someone who was born into a Christian family; someone who believes Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead three days later; someone who celebrates Christmas and Easter; someone who doesn't drink, smoke, or use profanity. Others take a darker view. They'd say Christians are judgmental, homophobic moralists who think they're the only ones going to heaven and secretly relish that everyone else is going to hell. If there's so much disagreement about what a Christian is, how are we supposed to know who to trust on the matter? Chapter 1: Letting Go Jesus' arrival signaled an end to one way of relating to God and the beginning of something entirely new. Jesus instructed us to love one another as well as those who won't love us back. Over time and across cultures, different churches have tried to live that out in different ways. But when you reduce church to its irreducible minimum, it is a group of people doing their best to follow a teacher---Jesus--- that we believe was sent from God to clear the way to God. Chapter 2: Apoplectic Jesus stepped into a world where religion was characterized by the temple model: sacred places that housed sacred texts that were interpreted by sacred men who used those texts to control superstitious people. Jesus initiated something entirely new, a complete departure from the temple model. But soon enough some of his followers began to try to assimilate Jesus into the temple model. Chapter 3: Recycled Religion is powerful---so powerful it can shape our consciences. Unfortunately, our consciences have been shaped by a version of Christianity that reflects a blend of the rules-focused temple model and the Jesus movement, which is demonstrated by love. As a result, we're tempted to priortize lawkeeping over loving others. How do we reconcile God's law with Jesus' call to love our neighbors? Chapter 4: When Gracie Met Truthy Jesus calls his followers to love the way he loved. But as recorded in the Gospels, there's a tension in the way he loved---it was messy, inconsistent, unfair, and confusing. At times, Jesus was harsh; at times, he was forgiving. At times, he pointed out sin; at times, he seemed to ignore it. Our temptation is to try to resolve the tension created around Jesus' love. But if we try, we lose something important, something essential. The challenge for followers of Jesus is to love in the messy, inconsistent, unfair, and confusing way that he did---to hang onto the tension. Chapter 5: What Love Requires The arrival of Jesus signaled the end of the Temple Model and the beginning of something brand new---an approach to faith characterized by love of others. The Temple Model is you-focused, but Jesus' new covenant calls for a focus on the you beside you. So, what is required if we want to follow Jesus' example and radically love the people around us? Chapter 6: Redefining Terms Many of the things people resist about the church are things the church should have resisted. Jesus initiated the church to resist the Temple Model, which was focused on sacred places, sacred men, and sacred texts . . . superstition. He initiated a new covenant that is less complicated but far more demanding. It prompts us to ask, "What does love require of me?" Chapter 7: Insiders Outsiders If you're a follower of Jesus, nonbelievers expect you to act like Jesus. They expect you to care about and value the things that Jesus cared about and valued. They judge your likeness to Jesus largely on the way you react and respond to people outside the faith. And you know what? They're right to do so. Given that truth, what does the Bible say about how followers of Jesus should treat nonbelievers? Chapter 8: Working It Out In the first century, "Christian" was a derogatory term invented by people who disliked followers of Jesus. It doesn't have a concrete definit
Communicator, author, and pastor Andy Stanley founded Atlanta-based North Point Ministries in 1995. Today, NPM consists of six churches in the Atlanta area and a network of more than 70 churches around the globe that collectively serve nearly 118,000 people weekly. As host of Your Move with Andy Stanley, which delivers over seven million messages each month through television and podcasts, and author of more than 20 books, including The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating; Ask It; How to Be Rich; Deep & Wide; Visioneering; and Next Generation Leader, he is considered one of the most influential pastors in America. Andy and his wife, Sandra, have three grown children and live near Atlanta.