Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "To God Be The Glory"1 (Lyrics)
Acts 11:26b – So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (NIV)
The other night, I got embroiled in another theological tussle on Facebook. This time, it was in the company of a group of Scottish pastors, some of whom I have known for decades. The argument was over whether or not we should continue to use the word "Christian" in our faith and ministries.
Over recent years, the word "Christian" has garnered some negative connotations in our society. The word represents, in the minds of some people, self-righteous bigotry and unyielding fundamentalism. In our supposedly post-Christian and post-modern world, there is a push to get rid of undesirable labels, and unfortunately, "Christian" is one of them. Instead of being known for loving one another as in ancient Antioch, Christians are lampooned as being ignorant, uneducated, unsophisticated, prejudicial, and judgmental. While there may be some elements across all Christian denominations that reflect these negative flaws, they do not really represent who we are in most regions of the world.
To me, the word "Christian" means a person who is a follower of Christ, who tries to live by His tenets and is not afraid to speak the truth, even when it might be considered unpopular. It would be so easy to ditch the word and just call ourselves "spiritual seekers who like Jesus". We could then do what we wanted and not be burdened by the word "Christian" at all.
But the truth of the matter is this: to be a Christian means to follow Christ closely, knowing that we will frequently fail. His teachings and truths will challenge us constantly, in the hope that we can let Him change us positively to become more like Him each day. As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, "Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else."
Questions for personal reflection:
What does the word "Christian" mean to me? How do I personally convey that meaning to others?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we try to follow You each day and grow in our Christian faith. Some days are better than others, and sometimes, we fail to live up to Your ways. Forgive us for our mistakes, and free us from our failings. Help us to be reconnected to Your truth, hope, and love. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.