Sunday, February 19, 2006

Terms and Definitions

What do you think of when I say the word “hamburger?” Do you think of your local "Mom and Pop" restaurant? Do you think of Ruby Tuesday’s, Wendy’s or McDonalds? Or do you think of your Mother’s hand-shaped patties; of an iron skillet in the kitchen on a summer day? Or what about a lazy Saturday afternoon cook-out, with aunts, uncles, and cousins galore?
See, I don’t know what images the word “hamburger” evokes for you. So, when I say “hamburger” I don’t know what you’re thinking.

It’s the same thing with the word “Christian.” I don’t know if you think of Mother Teresa or Jimmy Swaggart. I don’t know which comes to mind - the person who is the same everywhere they go, or the “Sunday morning deacon” who is also the “Saturday night rabble-rouser.” I don’t know if you’re more familiar with “they shall know you are Christians by your love” or the bigoted “us four and no more” mentality.

I just don’t know what images the word “Christian” evokes for you.

Therefore, I shall henceforth drop the term “Christian” from my definition of myself and take up the name of “Christ-follower.”

In Acts 11:26 we are told that the disciples of Christ were “first called ‘Christians’ in Antioch.” The word “Christian” is from the Greek word Christianos (pronounced khris-tee-an-os) which literally means “a follower of the Christ.”

So, when I say “follower of Christ” there may still be some confusion of just what it actually means, depending on one’s understanding of Jesus, but not nearly as much as with the word “Christian.”

In fact, in our society today, in America, it may not be that difficult to say “I am a Christian” simply because it has become so generic. But saying “I am a Christ-follower” is a little more difficult and carries much more weight.

Are you a Christian or are you a follower of the living Christ?


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