And they were called Christians . . .

What makes a Christian? Glad you asked. That is a wonderful question in our present American and Western Culture. Does going to a “church” service once or twice a month make a person a Christian? Does renouncing all worldly happiness and becoming a Catholic nun or priest make one a better Christian than others? Does picketing abortion or signing a petition against same sex marriage make a person a Christian? What about feeding the poor and working to eradicate world hunger? That’s a good one that both my right and lefty friends like. Does that make one a Christian? What’s on your list of your personal requirements for being a “Christian” in the West? I wonder how the Christians in persecuted China and other parts of the world would answer that question.

Going back 2000 years, the first question was probably not, “what makes a Christian” but rather, “who are these people who live so differently?” Answer, “Those are the folks who follow Christ” and thus the term was born. In sermonizing for Sunday, I camped out a bit on Acts 11:26b which states that the “Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Looking at the greater context what we find is that this group of early believers were so marked by the character of Christ that people took note. Some scholars debate as to whether this was a term of endearment or ridicule. To me that doesn’t really matter a whole lot. The point is that these people were just doing life seriously devoted to Jesus and change happened. Who were these first Christians in Antioch? From the text here are a few points to ponder. (more…)

Rediscovering the Ancient Order of Things. Part II.

Ouch!  Sometimes when I think about the lives of the first disciples of Jesus I feel a big sense of conviction.  By looking through the lens of history and observing those early Christians it’s easy to notice that there was something radically different about them.  The truth is that they had a deliberate conversion from the old life which is often lacking in our day.  I wonder at times if we haven’t gotten a bit soft and sleepy in the 21st century west and are no longer able to show any difference between us and the world around us.  By this I don’t mean we need to act weird and pick up man made traditions like the Amish.  But sometimes we forget that we as authentic followers of Christ are part of a greater Kingdom and therefore are called to a new way of life.  The first followers of Christ seemed to get that.  (more…)