Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Christian or Christ Follower?
One of the newest debates among Christianity is over our name: are we still called Christians, or is it time for something new? Some have become so dogmatic in this discussion that they refuse to be labeled a Christian.
The Christ Followers say that the term Christian has a negative connotation in our culture; they assert that society has a bad taste in its mouth from all the hypocrites in Christianity, from disgraced leaders and fallen pastors, to money-grubbing faith healers and abortion-clinic bombers. On this issue, I cannot help but agree with them. These tragedies all hurt the cause of Christ.
But the way I see it, the world should have a negative view of Christians, just in a different way. In Acts 11:26 we see the first time that the disciples are called Christians. It is important to note that they were called Christians; they did not call themselves Christians. History shows us that the term was actually bestowed upon them by the ones who criticized them.
Society didn’t like them, so society called them Christians.
I Peter 4:16 says “If any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf.” So if the world doesn’t like Christians, we should glorify God (Matthew 5:11-12), not run and change our name. This makes it look like Christians had an emergency staff meeting and agreed to retool the whole operation. And since “Christian” means “follower of Christ,” Christ Follower was not too creative.
Other critics of the word Christian say that the word means that we are little Christs (or little anointed ones by definition), thus making ourselves little gods. That just is not true. We are simply followers of Christ.
We don’t see the Muslims changing their names, and they behead people who do not believe like they do. What group could ever have a worse reputation than that?
If we really get down to it, the reason that society today has a problem with Christians is that they know too many of them. And the ones they know act just like they do, then go pretend to be holy on Sundays. The real reason society should not like Christians is the opposite; there should be a guilt felt within them because they are not living like Christ’s followers. They should see real love, joy, peace, patience, sacrifice, conviction, and commitment. When they do, they will do one of two things: they will feel compelled to change their lives and live for God, or they will harden their hearts and hate God and His followers.
As a lifetime Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, I know all too well the agony of defeat. The Bucs are arguably the worst franchise in the history of pro football. Around the turn of the century the team was doing some soul searching, trying to turn around their fortune. The solution was not in changing their name and tricking all the other teams into thinking they were somebody else. The solution was found in getting better personnel, which was what led to their 2003 Super Bowl victory (yes, they stink again, but only because they got rid of those good players).
So in our mission to reach the lost world for Christ, let’s focus on developing our personnel by making sure that all who follow Christ are living the way Christ wants us to live. No gimmicks, no tricks, no name changes. Let’s just infiltrate our culture with the love of Jesus as we seek to live a holy life.
We need to get our act together and reach the lost before the Allah Followers do.