What’s In A Name

Untitled-1 2A local businessman was teaching a Sunday School class of fourth grade boys, and he was really trying to impress the class because his son was a member. So during the lesson he asked the class this question: “Why do you suppose that people call me a Christian?” There was dead silence. Not one boy or girl spoke up. He asked the question again: “Boys and girls, why do you suppose that people call me a Christian?” There was still no response.

Finally, the man paused, scratched his chin, and said: “Now come on, think about it. Why do people call me a Christian?” His own son broke the silence and spoke up and said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you!”

Well, why do people call other people Christians? What do they mean by that term? In fact, what do you mean by that term? Today that term is used more than any other term to describe a follower of Christ, and to describe so many things. People talk about the Christian church, the Christian faith. They debate whether or not we are a Christian nation. Yet, I believe the average person has no real clue what a Christian really is at least biblically speaking. Many who profess to be Christians really are not Christians at all, and many who use the term don’t even really understand what they’re saying.

I was amazed to learn that even though the term “believers” is used 80 times to describe Christians, “saints” is used 60 times, and “disciples” is used 30 times, the word “Christian” is used only three times. Believers called those referred to as “Christians” by unbelievers “disciples.” The two titles were synonymous. Both words describe the same people. All true disciples were Christians, and all true Christians were disciples. A disciple is simply someone who learns the truth that is found in God’s word, and then lives the truth that is found in God’s word. In fact, the definition Jesus gave the disciples was this one: “If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)

How this world would be changed if every Christian would just simply stand for Christ when the opportunity presented itself. I read something that staggered me the other day. If one Christian won one person to Jesus Christ this year, then next year those two won one person each to Christ, then the next year those four won one person to Christ, and so on, in 33 years, the time Jesus lived on earth, four billion people would be saved.

We don’t need to bring the term Christian down to the way many of us live. We need to raise the way we live up to the level of the name Christian. Then when people ask, “What is a Christian?”
They will have no doubt what a Christian is, and they won’t even have to ask the question, “Are you a Christian?” Because by the way we live, walk, and talk they will know it.

–James Merritt

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