These were exciting, yet dangerous, days. With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus’ small band of disciples were emboldened and empowered to take the good news of a resurrected Savior to the lost world around them. Due to the severe persecution at Jerusalem, that infant family of believers, the “beloved brethren…the faithful…the very elect…called to be saints,” were forced to disperse, to take that gospel to the “uttermost parts of the earth.” Through an angel’s interaction with the centurion Cornelius, and a vision to the apostle Peter, God brings about an historic event, the spread of the gospel to the Gentile world. A church of believers would assemble themselves in Antioch, the capital of the Roman province of Syria, and they were on fire for Christ! When news of this assembly reached the ears of the saints at Jerusalem, “they sent forth Barnabas,” to see first-hand what was happening at Antioch. And see he did! “When he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad.”
Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought Saul (Paul) back with him to Antioch, and for “a whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught much people.” The church of believers grew, and the outside world could ignore it no longer. “And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” That was not unusual in the Roman Empire; Pompey’s troops were called Pompeiani, and Caesar’s men, Caesariani. It was not vogue or chic to be a follower of Christ in the days of Paul and Barnabas, which brings in the possibility that the term Christian was given them not as a term of endearment, but a term of derision, ridicule, and scorn.
Years later, further south in Palestine, a powerful ruler, King Agrippa, would visit Festus, who was holding Paul pending his appeal to Caesar. Given that amazing opportunity, Paul boldly proclaims “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentile.” “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” would be the reply of a cynical ruler. Peter would be the first to employ the term as he encourages those suffering the fires of persecution, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed.”
Christophoros, Christopher, bearing Christ, my second son’s name, and I pray that he always bears that name honorably. But just because you call someone a duck, doesn’t make them a duck, it’s a matter of the heart, best described in this quote: We Christians are to live in such a way that people coming into contact with us will not understand us, will be puzzled by us, will feel that we are some sort of an enigma, and will be driven to say, ‘Well, they are as they are because they belong to that Christ of whom they speak; they are different.’ (D Lloyd Jones) May we always bear the name of our King and Savior with grace and honor.
I Peter 5:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
Lord, may we always carry Your name with honor, always drawing others to the cross of Calvary.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-3209-628f55192c75e' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=3209&origin=grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-3209-628f55192c75e' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-3209-628f55192c75e' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>