The Early Christians referred to themselves as “People of The Way” or Disciples of Christ. They were first called Christians in Antioch.
This morning at my Church, the teaching pastor talked about how Christians used to refer to themselves as “People of the Way” not Christians. And that the name Christian was actually a nickname given to them by the non-Christians.
The word Christian is derived from “Christ” and “ian.” “Ian” means relating too, or resembling. So when they pointed out Christians, they were literally saying: “Oh look, there goes the person resembling Christ.” Now admittedly, this is not news to me. I have used this definition in countless chats for years.
But it kind of provoked a question in my heart this morning. Do people around me see that I resemble Christ in the way I live? In the way I love others, and in how I speak? The nickname may have been given to Christians in slight, but in reality, they paid them the greatest compliment possible.
The dictionary defines the Christian as someone following the teaching of Christ, or exemplifying the nature of Christ especially as it relates to His concern for others. Why is it that that is the last thing that comes to mind in today’s culture when the topic comes up?
Has it become more important to be known as someone who “believes” as Christ did than to “be” as Christ was? Truthfully, in many ways, we have no clue what Jesus believed. What we do know of His “beliefs” is often simply deduced from how He lived; from how He treated others around Him.
The personality split of Christians
I wonder if some of that difference between how Christ lived and how Christians are known today comes from the personality split we attribute to God. You know, the one where God is judgemental and would like to throw everyone in hell, but Jesus intervened and begged to be thrown in Hell instead? And so, while God isn’t too happy about it, He kinda has to respect His Son’s wishes because He loves His Son.
And so when you ask people what they think about God, they don’t really think about Him all that fondly. And yet, they all love Jesus. Nobody thinks Jesus was a bigot, or uncaring. Everybody thinks that if they met Jesus, He would like them. I mean, it’s Jesus we are talking about. The guy who was willing to give His life for others. That is Rad!
God is Father
Isn’t it crazy how distorted our view of God is? The Jews didn’t get it either. When Jesus says that if they have seen Him (Jesus) they have seen the Father (God), they thought He was nuts. And then He tells them to think of God as a Father when they pray. If they being earthly fathers would give their son bread when he asks for food, why don’t they think that the Heavenly Father who loves them much more perfectly, will hear them when they pray?
As if that didn’t sound positively ridiculous, He tells them that God is like a Father who, even though you have disobeyed Him, dissed Him, and downright rejected Him, will shamelessly lift His robes so He can RUN to welcome you back as soon as He notices you are on your way back, even while you are still far off. This image of God, really didn’t jive with their perception of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at all.
Let’s be fair to the Pharisees
Let’s be fair and not judge the Pharisees too harshly. They had never had the influence of the picture Jesus was painting in all their growing up years. Yet many of us as Christians have, and we still don’t have that kind of picture of God. Thinking of God as a Father is a real stretch at times.
But doesn’t our perception of God rob us of the grace towards others? Isn’t it because we still feel judged that we are so quick to judge others? I mean, we can’t give what we have never been able to receive. And if we can’t receive the undeserved gift of grace, we will have a hard time giving the undeserved gift of grace.