In my last post, I mentioned something that I could honestly rant about (so just go ahead and thank me for all of my self-control!) I said that I don’t agree with everything our government, fellow Christians, the pro-life movement and even myself have said or done. To be honest, I have differences of opinion with the people I work closest with in each of these fields, but that’s not necessarily bad. Though I do long for a more unified Body, I know that we are all unique and that’s not something that keeps me up at night.
But there is something I’ve been wanting to write a bit about and a sermon I heard Sunday has really kept this on my mind. Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how they “follow Christ” but don’t want to be labeled as “Christian.”
I understand where this idea comes from. It’s kind of like, “Well, I am a Smith, but after what my brother just did, I don’t want to be associated with this family anymore.” And I get that. I really do. The people at Westboro Baptist call themselves Christians and their actions are repulsively far from Christ’s example. No Christian is perfect and many people who claim to be Christians behave in a very un-Christ-like manner. As a matter of fact, the Bible promises that we will come across people who claim to be Christians but are actually false teachers.
But with this said, why shirk the name of Christ?
Acts 11:26 tells us that, in Antioch, Jesus’ disciples first started calling themselves Christians. They wanted a name that would unify them and identify them as followers of Christ. “Christian” has an actual meaning and it’s not “conservative” or “judgmental” or “white” or “American.” The word “Christian” literally means belonging to Christ.
Removing yourself from that word won’t clear things up. Actually, I think it causes more confusion. Why not live your life trying to be a good representation of Christ, claiming His name, rather than starting a one-man denomination every time a brother offends you?
To me, the ability to call myself a Christian with any real confidence is the greatest honor I’ll have on this earth. I am saying that Jesus sought me and bought me. You don’t get someone’s name by hanging out with them or studying them. You only take the name of your father or your husband as a sign of permanent connection and devotion.
The sermon I heard Sunday was about one of our names for God, Jehova Nissi. This name literally means “God is our banner.” A banner is something that unifies a group, states your allegiance and declares victory. Scripture constantly encourages us to call upon the name of the Lord. John 16:3 tells us that we will receive whatever we ask of God in Jesus’ name. John 20:31 tells us that we “have life” in the name of Jesus. We are taught to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Demons are cast out by the name of Jesus. Acts 4:12 says that there is “no other name” by which we can be saved.
When Paul was tortured, he rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
Here’s the deal: though I understand wanting to be disassociated with those who claim Christianity but don’t live like Christ, I don’t think we should ever hesitate to be associated with the name of Christ. Because if we do, we’ll avoid suffering. Everyone knows that you can talk about “God” all you want, talk about church and religion and spirituality, but if you mention Jesus, you’ll suffer dishonor. I sure want to make sure I’m counted worthy of that.
Don’t become a member at Westboro Baptist. Don’t repost this in order to get to heaven. But don’t hesitate to carry the banner. It isn’t everyone who carries the name of the King.