In the last couple years, my mind and spirit have been stretched in many ways. And you know when this happens, you begin to see the need for new words to help convey new concepts. But you also re-discover words that have a different etymology than you assumed it to have.
I generally dislike the word "believer" when it is used to define a person religiously. It is used by a great many Christians to mean "a person who believes that Jesus is God and died for their sins so you can have a relationship with him." I have disliked this word, not because it is descriptive, but because it creates a certain "right group" which means there must be a "wrong group".
I'm reading McLaren's latest book, The Secret Message of Jesus (what a lame title, I know!), and it's got me thinking about Jesus' primary message, that is, "Change your thinking, your very life! Re-imagine everything. The Kingdom of God is here, now, at hand." This was Jesus' message. And when he commanded folks to believe in it, it didn't have much to do with his divinity or where you'd go after you die or that somehow by doing this you could have a fuzzy "personal relationship with God", no...it was more (and different) from that.
These people he was chatting it up with in 1st century Palestine were awaiting the future date that God would "bring about his Kingdom" that would end all other Kingdoms (or at least rule over them)...but Jesus says, "No, you're missing the point. The Kingdom of God isn't 'coming'; it's here and now. Live that way."
I posted that Sean and I caught this movie (The Celestine Prophecy) the other day. While aspects of it were a bit high on the cheese factor, the underlying philosophy was very powerful...that there is another reality right here in our midst, but we do not see often see it. We are either too busy or to lazy or to self-focussed to see it. It requires a re-thinking of our very lives and the systems of how things "really work". It requires that our eyes and ears be opened to realities that are not in our immediate view.
I'm not talking about some escapist mystical place or some realization that only happens once you've lived ascetically for 20 years. I'm talking about a reality that tunes us to how the world really works...and it's available to those child-like folks who never stop discovering or changing or exploring.
I guess what I'm getting at is that a "believer" is simply someone who believes that there is another reality, that this Kingdom of God is possible and here...and then works for it, lives in it...not beliving church doctrine, but believing Jesus' teachings. After all, "we know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." Hmm.