John 18:37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
The other night I got embroiled in another theological tussle on Facebook. This time it was in the company of a group of Scottish pastors, some of whom I have known for decades. The argument was over whether or not we should continue to use the word ‘Christian’ in our faith and ministries.
Over recent years, the word ‘Christian’ has garnered some negative connotations in our society. The word represents, in the minds of some people, self-righteous bigotry and unyielding fundamentalism. In our supposedly post-Christian and post-modern world, there is a push to get rid of undesirable labels and, unfortunately, ‘Christian’ is one of them. Instead of being known for loving one another as in ancient Antioch, Christians are lampooned as being ignorant, uneducated, unsophisticated, prejudicial and judgmental. While there may be some elements across all Christian denominations that reflect these negative flaws, they do not really represent who we are in most regions of the world.
To me, the word ‘Christian’ means a person who is a follower of Christ, who tries to live by His tenets and is not afraid to speak the truth, even when it might be considered unpopular. It would be so easy to ditch the word and just call ourselves ‘spiritual seekers who like Jesus.’ We could then do what we wanted and not be burdened by the word ‘Christian’ at all.
But the truth of the matter is this: to be a Christian means to follow Christ closely, knowing that we will frequently fail. His teachings and truths will challenge us constantly, in the hope that we can change ourselves positively and become more like Him each day. As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, ‘Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.’
Questions for personal reflection
What does the word ‘Christian’ mean to me? How do I personally convey that meaning to others?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we try to follow You each day and grow in our Christian faith. Some days are better than others, and sometimes we fail to live up to Your ways. Forgive us for our mistakes and free us from our failings. Help us to be reconnected to Your Truth, Hope, and Love. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TN. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question of today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest winter drawings. It features the Babcock Mill in West Virginia during snowfall. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8522/8467215304_7af5d74172_b.jpg
Signed, limited edition prints of this delightful drawing are available from John.