Job 22-24 Acts 11
“Then Barnabas went to the city of Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found Saul, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year Saul and Barnabas met with the church and taught many people there. In Antioch the followers were called Christians for the first time.” (Acts 11:25-26 NCV)
Once the Jewish believers in Jerusalem got over the shock that God would send salvation to the gentiles, the evangelism explosion began. Many who left Jerusalem because of the persecution spread the gospel as they went, still mainly to Jews. At least until they got to Antioch. In Antioch, they spread the message among the Greeks and gentiles began turning to God. They sent Barnabas to check things out and make sure they weren’t going off on weird tangents. When he got there, he blessed the believers, glad that God was doing such a mighty work, and then he realized that the job was bigger than himself, so he went off to Tarsus to get Saul to help him. There, under a year of the combined teaching of Saul and Barnabas and the work of the Holy Spirit, the followers of Jesus were called “Christians” for the first time.
As I understand it, the word “Christian” meant something like “those who are just like Christ” or “little Christs.” It was probably meant in a derogatory manner. As often happens with such nicknames, the followers of Christ accepted the name and began to wear it proudly. It would be nice if the worst insult someone could make about me is that I’m just like Christ. Sadly, if non-believers were to come up with nicknames for Christians today, I doubt they would focus on our imitation of Christ. They might pick a name that would focus on our weaknesses and sins. They might choose a name based on the actions of some of the televangelists that cause most followers of Christ to cringe. Those names would be chosen because most people don’t really see true followers of Christ. They see the big names who tend to be the ones to pervert the faith. There’s a cure for that problem though – we must live for Christ each day. We must treat people like Jesus would. We should love others who follow Christ. We should show grace and mercy towards those who don’t follow Christ yet. We should walk with Jesus so closely that people who observe us think that the “something different” about us is our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We can’t control what other people say or think about us. What we can control is how we live and we should live in a way that honors God by our imitation of Jesus.
Lord, when other see me, let them see Your grace and Your love flowing out of me. When others look at me, may they see Jesus in all I do.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved