READ: Acts 11
THINK: As I look back at the course of my life, it is interesting to think about all of the different labels I have been given at one time or another – the many words which people assigned me to define, at least in part, who I am. Some I wish I could get rid of – like disruptive, bad listener, bald guy, and Cubs fan. Others I’m very proud of – like dad, pastor, bald guy with a wife who is much better looking than him, and Blackhawks fan. In all seriousness, though, each of these labels that have been given to me help to define a part of who I am and serve to shape the picture of the whole of my identity. But the single label that has meant the most to me, the one word, the one description that above all else shapes, defines, guides, and describes me, the one label that I cherish above all of the others and seek to live up to most – though I fall short daily – is this: Christian.
Acts 11 tells us that the term was first used in Antioch to describe all of those crazy wierdos who were following the way of that Jesus guy. And make no mistake, it was not a term of endearment. It was originally thrown around with scorn towards the members of the early church. But instead of being ashamed, instead of being annoyed, and instead of running away from all of the difficulties and the implications of being labeled that way, they embraced it and began to wear the label proudly.
Part of their affection for the term had to do with its etymology. The root word is, obviously, the Greek word for Christ – Christos. But the suffix is what makes things interesting. Adding ian or ianos to a proper name like Christos in Greek meant that you were followers of, adherents to, or even slaves of that person. It indicated, above all else that you belonged to the one who was named. And so the people of the Roman Empire used it derisively to say, “Hey, you idiots are slaves to a dead guy. You belong to him. Hahahaha!” And the early church heard it and said, “Yeah we are! Actually he’s alive and he conquered sin and death. And we definitely belong to him, we’re his bondslaves, we’re sold out for him!” And so they embraced the label Christianos.
The label, Christian, means nothing less today. It isn’t something that you inherit from your parents. It isn’t something that you earn by going to church enough times. It isn’t something that defines nice people or good people of happy people. The very word means somebody who is sold out completely to be a follower and a servant of Jesus Christ. Does that define you? Does that description fit the Christianity that you have been living out?
None of us live out our Christianity perfectly. And none of us ever will. But lets commit to pushing aside the hindrances and passionately pursuing all that it means to wear that ancient label!
PRAY: Let this song be your prayer today. And then walk out the door and proudly be sold out for Jesus!