Based upon the morality of Americans as reported in the news media, do those numbers sound right to you? I don't know about you, but I am surprised at the number of people who claim to be Christians, not only because of the moral decay in society as a whole, but especially when I stop and think about the immorality which goes unchallenged by churches today. While professing Christians seem to be ignorant of how a believer should behave, those watching us appear to know how a Christian should behave. It is no wonder that Christians are accused of being hypocrites.
Why do you think there is such disparity in how believers are supposed to behave, and how the professing church actually lives? I believe it is because the Church has focused on salvation being by grace, being a free gift apart from merit or works, and as a result, it has failed to preach repentance and discipleship. Repentance is nothing more than realizing one is headed in the wrong direction, and turning around to follow the One who leads us into a right relationship with God. Discipleship is realizing there is One who not only knows how to be in relationship with God, but being willing to submit to His instruction.
I believe that a student of the Bible can discover the priority God places on things by how often He speaks of them in His Word. On March 24th of this year, I wrote an article which stated that in the New Testament, Jesus is called "Lord" over 700 times, 200 of which are in the Gospels, and He is called "Savior" a total of only twenty-four times. My point was that we are to submit to the Lordship of the One who saved us. The numbers are very clear as to how God wants us to relate to Jesus: He is Lord!
Today, I noticed that the word "follow" appears an average of twenty-two times, and the word "disciple" appears an average of over fifty-six times in the Gospels. To me, that would indicate God wants His children to follow the example and commands of His Son. It means that He expects us to be disciplined (trained as a disciple, a follower) in our manner of life. Perhaps we need to emphasize all of Luke 24:47 and not just the fact that Jesus "remitted" our sins.
Do the words "disciple" and "follower" describe you? I certainly hope so!