What’s in a name? Most of you reading this call yourself Christians…as do I. But what do we mean by that?
When I hear people use the term, it is used in different ways. Some use it to mean they are Christian, not Jewish. Others use it in a broad way when they describe our nation as a christian nation. (I’m not always certain what they mean when they refer to our nation that way.)
When I use the term Christian, I refer to someone who is trusting Christ alone for their eternal salvation. To be clear, it means I’m trusting in what He did on the cross in my place to pay for my sin as sufficient. I don’t have to do anything extra in terms of what is needed. stop
Of course, I will do more in grateful response. But I’m not doing it to earn my salvation. There is a difference. As an outworking of our life in Christ, we will live out love for the unloveable, the weak, poor and broken…as Christ did.
In the New Testament, the term christian started because the followers of Jesus were like “little Christs.” That is how they got their name. The passage I’m quoting doesn’t say specifically.
But there was something that characterized them. They loved each other and they loved people who were not lovable! They loved in a sacrificial way. They reached out to people in prison, in hospitals, and in a community that wanted to kill them…because they were Christians! But from what I read, it was a term given them by unbelievers, possibly a bit of derisively.
How are we like them?
How are we not like them?
When he (Barnabas) came and saw the grace of God, he was glad,
and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,
for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.
For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people.
And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
Acts 11:23-26 ESV