by David Wraight
Jesus doesn’t call his followers to seek “converts” to Christianity. He calls us to introduce others to him—to offer people the opportunity to be his disciples. Our task, our calling, is simply to introduce people to Jesus.
Conversion is a religious concept. Following Jesus is all about relationship, not religion. Jesus didn’t come to this earth to create a new religion; he didn’t ask people to convert to a religious ideology; he simply asked people to “follow” him; he invited them into relationship with him. (Matthew 2:14; 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 10:38; 16:24; 19:21)
The early disciples of Jesus declared themselves to be “followers of the Way” (Acts 16:17; 18:25-26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22; 2 Peter 2:2, 21), rather than identifying themselves as members of a new religion or sect. Jesus was “The Way” and his disciples simply committed themselves to following “the way of Jesus”. They didn’t ask people to “become Christians”; they just “lived” Jesus and provided opportunity for others to meet, believe in, and follow him.
In many cases Jesus’ followers still retained their cultural and religious identity. There were Jewish followers of Jesus, Greek followers of Jesus, Arab followers of Jesus, Cretan followers of Jesus. The problems came when the members of one of the cultures imposed their religious practice on others.
If Jesus and the early disciples didn’t ask people to convert to a religion or ideology, then neither should we. Becoming citizens of God’s Kingdom has little to do with accepting a catalogue of rules or aligning with a religion—it is all about a relationship with Jesus. The mandate of the gospel is to provide people with an opportunity to be followers (disciples) of Jesus.
As citizens of the Kingdom of God our primary task is to introduce people to Jesus, not to try to get them to commit to a religious system called Christianity.