25 Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”
10 Because you kept my command to endure, I will keep you safe through the time of testing that is about to come over the whole world, to test those who live on earth. 11 I’m coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one takes your crown. 12 As for those who emerge victorious, I will make them pillars in the temple of my God, and they will never leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God. I will also write on them my own new name.
“Look under your boot, Buzz. You too, Jessie. Whose name is written there?” *
Andy’s name on their shoe sole showed who Woody and Buzz belonged to. Scholar N. T. Wright told how Antioch, a diverse city, linked Christ’s name to his disciples: “there the word ‘Christian’ first came into use. It was a nickname…just as ‘Methodist’ was at first a word used by the opponents of Wesley and his friends to sneer at their ‘Methodical’ ways of organizing their Bible study and prayer groups. Like many nicknames, it tells us a lot about the popular perception of what was going on. You would hear every language…in Antioch…but the one you could guarantee to be understood in was…Greek. ‘Christ’…was the Greek word for ‘Messiah,’…‘God’s anointed king.’ Jesus’ followers were thinking and speaking in such a way that they were called ‘the king’s people,’ ‘Messianists,’ Christians.” **
Lord Jesus, it is because you are the Christ (God’s anointed king) that I am a Christ-ian. You are my king, and how I look forward to spending eternity with you in the safety and victory that Revelation promised. Amen.
** N. T. Wright, Acts for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–12. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, p. 178.
*** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Revelation of John—Volume 1 Chapters 1–5 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 135.
Growing up I hated my name.
For one, I could never find items in stores that had my name on it. All my siblings could find keychains with their names on them but not me. That’s a big deal when you’re a kid. Then there were the adults. For some reason they all struggled to pronounce “Melanie” so instead I always ended up as “Melody.” After a while I got tired of correcting them and just went with it.
Perhaps it was the day that I discovered my name's meaning that really sealed it for me. I remember seeing it on a card and reading “dark complected or one who dwells in darkness.” For those who know me, you know the first couldn’t be further from the truth and the second just sounds miserable. That was it. I was done with it. The next day at school I started writing my middle name on my papers instead. It took two whole days before my teacher contacted my mom. When I got home that afternoon my mom sat me down and asked me why I had started using my middle name. The whole horrid truth about how much I despised my first name came pouring out. I ended by asking why she would choose such a terrible name.
I think she was taken aback at first at my vehemence over the issue. She recovered quickly though and shared with me all the reasons she had chosen my name. She shared how she had first come to like the name after watching “Gone With The Wind” with her favorite grandmother. Later she looked up the history of the name, and discovered that it was also the name of a Roman saint who gave all her wealth to charity. As I listened to my mom share all the things she loved about my name, I started to see it through her eyes. It was also the last day I complained about my name.
Names are powerful things. When it came time to name my own kids, I remember that it was a struggle and my husband and I went back and forth for quite a while. It’s an important thing to name another human being. Names are more than just an identifier for us. They often become our identity. Scripture is full of stories where God changed someone's name to show that He was doing a new work through them.
We do this with each other still. How many nicknames did you have growing up? Why were those chosen? As a kid I had lots of them--I was tall, so "redwood tree," I was pale, so "Snow White," I did Irish dancing, so "Irish Spring." (Not very original, but we were kids.) Some nicknames are cruel and others we wear as a badge of honor.
No matter how many names we have perhaps the most important one is “Child of God.” That is the name I cling to on hard days and the identity I strive to make my own. When life is difficult, I remember that God has written His name on my heart where no one can erase it. I also remember that He wrote it there not because I was good, well respected or thin. He wrote it there because I am His creation and He loves me. He loves you too. In this life you will have many names--some we love and some we could do without. Let's not forget the one that matters the most. You are a child of God--a "Christ-ian."
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