And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. The word Christian is only used three times in the New Testament. First, here in Acts 11:26 and again in 26:28, and later in 1 Peter 4:16.
Today, many claim to be Christians, regardless of what they believe or who they believe in, or even how they live. Here in America it seems a person can be considered a Christian just by claiming to be so. The word “Christian” is plastered all over the place, again as if stamping a program or teaching or song with that name makes it so. Today we even have teachers claiming people can be Muslim or Hindu and be Christian too. Some of us really don’t read even the most simplest words of our bibles, do we?
We, the redeemed in Christ seem to follow right along with these people, not questioning their behavior or beliefs, we simply accept what they claim as the truth and jump in beside them supporting them, working their programs, buying their music and training how to’s. We do this with blindness – chosen blindness. How many times have you heard, “I don’t wanna judge”? Oh, really?
So, in thinking of some things I have witnessed this past year I started to realize there had to be a definitive. And there is. Jesus, our Messiah, never called His disciples “Christians”. This is actually a term given to the disciples by unbelievers, or as the bible refers to them, “Gentiles”. But, the Lord called them followers, friends, disciples. One thing sets true disciples apart from all the rest. That one thing is still true today in the eyes of the Lord. It is a qualifier much overlooked and because it has been so overlooked our society has become confused in what a Christian, or a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ really is.
It is quite simple, really. In John 14:15 Jesus said “If you love me keep my commandments”. Again in 15:14 Jesus said “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you”. He said “If anyone loves Me he will keep My word” in John 14:23, and yet, in verse 24 Jesus explains “He who does not love Me does not keep My words”.
Yeah, consider those words for a moment because there is great truth within them. After all, they are the words of the one who died for us so that we could be called by His name. These are His standards, not mine.
To continue, in 1 John 5:2-3 we are told by the author “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
There’s really no getting around it, is there? If we love Jesus we do what His word tells us to do because we love Him. Those who come at us with other words or other ways claiming THE gospel; a new message by way of visitation cuz God’s doin’ a new thing; a new way to be a Christian cuz times and society have changed and so too must we; those who claim to love yet hurt others, the unrepentant, the unforgiving, the unloving…they cannot be called by His name. They are not His disciples because they do not love Him, they have not kept His words, and this is by their own choice.
Hmm…I told you it was simple.