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What is behind the word Christian?

08.13.2012

Have you ever said that you were going to put something in the trunk or your car? While new words come along all the time (let me google that) some older words seem to have the power of holding on forever. The last time a trunk was strapped to the back bumper of a car was in the 1930's. Have you ever gone to a covered dish supper and put the dish on the floor board so it wouldn't spill on the seat? That goes back to horse drawn wagons. 

The word Christian is one of those words that has hung in there for a long time. People have been called, or have been calling themselves Christians ever since some followers of Jesus were given that mocking moniker in the first century. But sometimes words hang around long beyond the memory of the reality to which they referred. In many unfortunate ways that has led to some fuzzy understanding of what Christian means. In some cases it references a social or political demographic or cultural orientation. Unfortunately it has in some cases become a sentimental,  verbal logo for political platforms that no longer even know how to reference Jesus in public conversation. It often seems that we would love to be Christian if we just didn't have to bring up Jesus. 

What is the reality behind that ancient nickname, Christian? Luke recalls in the  New Testament book of Acts that the disciples of Jesus were first called Christians in the metropolis of Antioch. There was a robust community of people who believed that Jesus was the "Christ" sent from God.  Their belief was so deeply held that their deportment was intentionally modeled out of their clear memory of  Jesus. They believed that Jesus had told them the truth about how to live life and inspired them to live out that new reality.   There was such obvious concentric overlap in the way their faith in Jesus worked its way out in public life that folks began to call them "little Christs". That is the reality behind the word. There is no such thing as Christian without Jesus. 

Christian. It is a defining word that also serves as a cherished symbol. But no symbol can live very long if there is not a reality behind it. For those who wish to follow Jesus, isn't it perhaps time to focus on the difficult calling of living out our faith on the basis of what we know of Jesus and leave the name calling to others?

 As for me, I have chosen from this point on to call myself a follower. I do hope that it will become evident who it is that I am following.

Comments

Nancy
Thank you Doug for enlightening us once again. Your teaching and leading is one of the reasons I love the Soul Cafe so much. Of course, the other reason is the beautiful music. Thank you Lorri.

Angel
What a WONDERFUL explanation! Thank you so very much for all you do, Soul Cafe family!!!

Heather
Thank you so much Doug! I never knew the meaning behind the word. It sheds a little light on what being a Christian actually means. :)

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