TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Acts 11:19-26
When I was eight years old, some family friends gave me several boxes of football cards that belonged to their son who had left home to join the military. It included a nearly complete 1986 Topps set, which included Jerry Rice’s rookie card. And there were three of them. I remember the card being worth about sixty dollars in the late 1980s and I dreamed of it turning me into a millionaire some day. Unfortunately, football cards aren’t worth what they used to be, and I could probably sell it now for around 20 bucks. It has actually lost value.
Sometimes words lose their value, and I fear that’s the case with the word Christian. Over 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christians by religious preference, but less than 20% attend a church on a regular basis. Church attendance is not the only identifying marker of a Christian, but it does indicate something about the person who claims to be a Christian. Unfortunately, the name Christian has lost value and meaning, especially in light of how it was originally used.
In Acts 11, the church grew rapidly in the metropolitan city of Antioch in Syria. The followers of Jesus create such a splash that the pagans give them a nickname: Christians. They are literally calling followers of Jesus “the Christ-people.” Maybe they heard Christians speak so much of Christ that it was the only nickname they could create to identify these strange religious people. But isn’t it powerful? The word Christian wasn’t an option among many options on a religious preference survey; rather, it identified believers. They were the Jesus-people.
How do our friends see us? Do we talk so much about Jesus and represent Him so well that they could legitimately call us “Christians,” or “the Christ-people?” Imagine the impact we could make on our communities if we legitimately portrayed Jesus in a way that others could think of no other way to identify us than to call us the Jesus-people.
Today, I will…pray that others will see Jesus in me so clearly that Christian will be my identity, not my religious preference.