“Jesus Wasn’t a Christian”

Walking In Jesus' Footsteps

I hear that statement a lot these days. First, let’s clear something up: the term “Christian” originally denoted* “Christ-like.” And so, in the truest sense, Jesus not only was a Christian, but was the first and only perfect Christian who ever lived.

However, the statement often connotes* the idea that Jesus was nothing like the people who call themselves Christians. And this is certainly true of the “many” whom Jesus predicted would use His name, but to whom he would one day say, “I never knew you.” Why? Because, as he explains two verses earlier, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21-23)  So anyone who is not sincerely striving to be Christ-like is literally not a “Christ-ian.”

My first prayer as a new believer was, “Jesus, I want to follow you. Just don’t make me a Christian.” And so, as an earnest but oh-so-green disciple I chose instead to call myself a “Jesus-follower.” And I still do.

“Christian” is an honorable word, but there’s so much baggage attached to it. Let us strive, therefore, fellow-believers, to live in such a way that all of that baggage will eventually fall away, and we will be recognized not only as true Jesus-followers…

But as true Christians.

*Denote means the actual definition of a term. Connote refers to its secondary associations, things it has come to be thought of as meaning.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to “Jesus Wasn’t a Christian”

  1. Tadd J. says:

    Perfectly stated. I wrote a similar article analysing ONLY the words spoken by Jesus, himself, within the Gospels, on whether or not he would agree with those who use his words to further their political agenda or not.


    Liked by 3 people

  2. adguru101 says:

    Jesus was Jewish, and the term “Christian” was created well after his death to inspire followers of his teachings, which were clearly rooted in the Old Testament. True Christianity and Judaism are based on a moral code that has more in common than is usually mentioned.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. mic says:


    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have always felt I was more of a follower of Jesus. His example and his teachings are guides for how to live, forgive and love. Sadly, much has been done in the name “Christianity” that he would no doubt condemn.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. francisashis says:

    Idea is not at all bad.After all we are called to be a follower only. what is there in a name ?Just be Christ like and bless me abundantly .Thanks a lot for sharing.Take care .😊💗🙏

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The character of religious followers is arguably one of the worst arguments for religion. Ideally, religious devotees should have a high caliber of character, and really, we should hold them/ourselves to a higher standards. But also, religious devotees are human. And as with the rest of humanity, there is a spectrum of very righteous to very wicked. To assume that the very wicked does not exist in the religious community is a mistake.
    The best thing religious followers can do is to really live in ways that bring honor, eg. by truly following the ideals of pursuing justice, acts of kindness and righteousness and charity.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Julia says:

    Sadly people take that which is perfectly of God and make it into something all together different. There is no shame in being called a Christian, for the disciples were the first to be called Christians as we see in the book of Acts. (Acts 11:26). Blessings Always Mitch.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. pitchurman says:

    Mitch, This is especially thought provoking. Having grown up in the Lutheran church and spending a life time observing Christian behavior as well as behavior of other religious zealots, I no longer consider myself a Christian. I prefer to identify as a simple, decent human being.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Bruce Cooper says:

    Hi Mitch, Julia is correct in all that she states. Sometimes when the definition of what a “Christian” is being questioned or challenged, I also call myself a disciple of Jesus, which has the same connotation, in my mind, as being a follower of Jesus. Thank you for your post Mitch, the clarification you gave is unfortunately needed. Blessings!

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I have done a few things with sacrifice accompanied by resentment. Fixing cars for free in His name. Not long ago I saw me standing before Adoni and telling Him the good thing. He rubbed His chin and said: “Hmmm, don’t remember that”

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Manu says:

    As you write Mitch, the term Christian does have its baggage attached to it and so I do prefer to call myself a follower of Jesus.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. c.f. leach says:

    Nice post my friend. Like Manu, I ‘ve always considered myself a follower of Jesus as He is not religious but spiritual. You see, religion never delivered anybody….but Jesus did. Blessings and Peace!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. TEP336 says:

    This is a bit of a loaded statement. I mean, when you speak to our Jewish brethren, be they Messianic or not, one of the things they will tell you is that Jesus didn’t come to establish a new religion. From where I stand, as a Messianic Gentile, what we know as Christianity was meant to be the completion of Judaism. Of late, the study I have been doing has brought me to the conclusion that Christianity isn’t Jewish enough. We can’t forget that the Gospel is of Jewish origin, not Gentile.

    Historically speaking, what we now call Christianity was originally just known as The Way. I think that is significant. Followers of the Way were originally called Christians as a derogatory term, which is something that must be taken into consideration, especially in light of the fact that the earliest Church was primarily Jewish with some Gentile followers mixed in. The change came when the demographics flipped, with there being more Gentiles than Jews in the Church.

    The main reason why I disagree with the idea that Jesus was a Christian is that He is The Christ, not a follower of The Christ. To be a Christian is to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. He cannot follow Himself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      True enough, Jimmy, hence I promise never to refer to Jesus as a Jesus-follower. ;>) Honestly, I have no interest in calling or having anyone else call Jesus a “Christian.” I don’t even care if they call themselves that. I only care that they become worthy of the term “Christ-like” (or alternate translations of the word Christian, “of Christ,” “little Christ”), especially in the eyes of their detractors. Blessings, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Helen Okins says:

    Love this post. Amen amen

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I like Christ follower.

    Antioch is where believers were first called Christians. That city became a hub for missions. If we carry the name, let’s do it well. Christ follower, believer, Christian: wear the name well.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. I do like this post Mitch, but whatever anyone wants to call themselves, they will never be like Jesus, it is totally impossible, but we can all strive to be Christ-like 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Great topic choice and post. Saying Christ is not Christian is akin to saying that Karl Marx was not a Marxist.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. gpavants says:


    He was Himself and that’s all the world needed. That simple name, Jesus carries all the title He needs!

    In Christ,


    Liked by 2 people

  19. Half a Soul says:

    Nice post and I like your approach. For me, I continue to call myself Christian and hope to live in such a way that breaks the stereotype (which includes being open about my need for Christ). I just wrote about Jesus finding Zacchaeus and how that broke the stereotype of the Pharisee. It’s a good topic to consider!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I want to live the kind of life that makes my unbelieving friends hesitate to agree with the haters. When the scoffers go on about how unloving, bigoted, judgmental, racist, and hateful Christians are, I want my friends to say, or at least think, “…But Annie’s a Christian, and SHE’s not like that.”

    Liked by 2 people

  21. K.L. Hale says:

    I’m a follower of Jesus too, Mitch. I’ve often thought ,”even IF I DIDN’T believe in God how could I NOT use Jesus as a role model for being human?” Following him in faith, even in the messy parts that occurred (and still do), has resulted in unexplainable peace and breakthroughs of human boundaries. 💛

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Lightsonlyministries says:

    Well said

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I have tended to stay away from the word “Christian” I also call myself a follower of Jesus, although I fail to live up to His standard daily. This is good reading, and I left encouraged. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Great post! Yes I heard this argument recently, some Christians are now not calling themselves Christians lol…As you stated Jesus said there will be many who profess to be Christian that He has no idea who they are…..another term I like is “The Way” which was used throughout Acts, but I also embrace the identity of being a Christian

    God bless brother!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Alexis says:

    Said perfectly, a wise godly woman once said to me that we need to be a Bible believing, Jesus following person. To often we put more meaning into a label than the fruit that we should be baring to show for our labor!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Amy Adams says:

    That’s why I’m drifting away from being a Christian and referring to myself as a believer. A lot of fake Christians have really given Christianity in general a bad name. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Rashida says:

    I call myself a Christian, a Christ follower. However, many Christians who do not because of those who do wrong while professing Christ forget that the bible already warns this, it’s saying the wheat and tares will grow together. it is nothing new in God eyes. Love God, love people and let our love for one another profess who true Christ followers are.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. chattingaboutgod says:

    Mitch, a lot of input, from those above, I remember years ago a Pastor ( who is with Jesus ) said, “ Jesus has no secret agents” what he meant by that was this, your going to know if your Christ-like, believer, Christ-follower…if you have love for one another, think of it…if I have been born again, and the Holy Spirit lives in me, I will not be the same why? “Faith comes by hearing and that by the Word of God” Romans 10:17, I will either run to the Light and see all things are from God, or run from it, or reject it, or make excuses ( John 3:18-21 )
    God Bless,

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Pingback: “Jesus Wasn’t a Christian” | Restored Ministries Blog

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