Why are Christ’s followers called Christians? It’s not the same reason why we call those who conform to Buddha’s teachings Buddhists, those who act according to Marx’s doctrine Marxists, and those who study fossils palaeontologists. The Christian case is different. Certainly, being a Christian entails following Christ’s teachings, but there is a lot more to it. Christ himself urges His disciples to be more than partisans. He calls them friends and goes even to the point of demanding unity: “Remain in me, as I remain in you […] because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:4-5).
Early Christians, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, further developed this aspect of Christianity. Thus we find texts like this, from St. Paul: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rm 13:14). But what does this mean precisely? St. Paul is telling us here that the Lord Jesus may be compared to a mantle that we can wear in order to cover our nakedness. The Christian man, thus, is not only a mere follower of a great rabbi, but properly another Christ. Christians are called so because they strive to become an image of the Lord.
This is the Christian ideal, but not everybody accomplishes it. Indeed, without divine help it is impossible to attain this goal of becoming like Christ. That’s why we must pray to God, that He help us to “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Rm 13:12). In this context, there’s a section of the Lorica of St. Patrick that can be particularly helpful to every Christian seeking to become Christlike:Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
It can be read as a prayer for complete transformation into another Christ. Indeed only he who is another Christ can transmit Him effectively. The praying man asks for such a total transformation that those around him notice the living Christ in him. It’s actually an act of humility. As clothing covers our body, Christ covers us, not by annihilation –we don’t cease to exist while clothed– but by imprinting on us His image.
Christianity is more about Christ than about His teachings. These, needless to say, derive from Him; and are void or, at least petty, if separated from Christ. By the same token, the Christian man is more a Christ-bearer (a Χριστόφορος) than a preacher of himself. Christianity is about us fading and Christ shining.