Monday, February 18, 2013

Christians, Redefined

     Last Saturday, as I was reading the book of 1 John, a thought came to me.  Oddly enough, it didn't even come directly from 1 John.  I don't know which one, but some verse in that book sparked a thought in my mind.  The thought took me back to Acts 11:26:
"And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." - ESV, emphasis added.
      This scripture adds a piece of information to Christian history that is definitely worth remembering.  It's the first time we were called Christians!  Although nowadays we view it as merely a label or a name, when it was first used it was a description.  This name, in one word, could sum up all that the early believers were like.  It had power.  I can imagine that whenever an early believer heard it, a chill went down their spine.  They were humbled by it.  Why doesn't this word have the same effect today?  I believe that it's because our generation has forgotten its meaning.  Quite simply, the word "Christian" means "Like Christ."  It sounds reasonable enough, right?  Those who followed Christ were said to be like Him.  But think about how that name came into existence.  They were named Christians simply because the first thing that popped into others' heads when they saw these early followers was that they looked just like Christ.  Their actions and behavior were shaped like none other than the Savior whom they were following!

     How do you think we compare with this today?  If the word "Christian" didn't exist, how do you think non-believers would describe us?  Would they say we're like Christ?  Sadly, I'm not so sure they would - at least not most of us.  Sure, there are some Christians out there who truly resemble Christ in their actions, but do you?  Do I?  Honestly, I don't know that I do.

     So let's act as though the word "Christian" didn't exist.  Let's act as though there was nothing that could distinguish us from the world but our actions - not a t-shirt, not a necklace, not a bracelet.  Nothing.  Only our lives can separate us.  Live your life so that your very being resembles the life of Christ.  And when you hear this word - this awe-inspiring, sobering word - remember Who it is that you're really like.  Remember to always be like Christ.