“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”
You know, I think the name Christian is so common to us that we take it for granted. For those first disciples, there had to be a mix of emotions that came with being called Christians for the first time. They may have been a bit fearful, because we know what happened to Christ, and so going about doing works in his name and being seen as his followers could certainly be dangerous for them. But they were probably also deeply honored to be called Christian. Being seen as his followers and people who did what he did was exactly what they wanted to happen, and because of that, we are told that many more people were added to the flock. So there had to be a little joy in that mix of emotions too.
So what about us, what does it do for us to be called Christian? For some people, it probably seems like Christians are a dime a dozen, and most of them are not nearly as zealous as were those first Christians. So today, being called Christian isn’t probably a complement or an accusation so much as it’s a way to categorize us, or even bracket us so that our message, our influence, can be ignored.
But our objective has to be the same as those first disciples. We have to want that many would be added to the Lord after they see what we do and hear what we say. In order for that to happen, we have to be people of integrity. Our worship can’t end when we say “thanks be to God,” but instead must continue into our living, into our daily lives. We have to be people who stand up for life, who live the Gospel, who reach out to the poor and the marginalized, who earnestly seek to bring souls to Christ. I think the world is aching to see that kind of authenticity in us. And we have to love them enough to bring them to our Savior.
When we are called “Christian,” it should stir up in our hearts a little fear and a little joy too. The fear should be that we would in any way neglect the mission or tear it down, and the joy should come when we realize that people see Christ in us. The Psalmist today says “All you nations, praise the Lord.” And that’s what we want to happen, to have people of every nation praise the Lord and call themselves Christian too.