Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Stage Names (Part 10)
So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Acts 11:26 (NKJV)
Over 200 million people in the United States (about 80% of the population) call themselves Christians. In recent years, we've been mostly silent--except in church, and many of us are silent even there.
But Christians do have a vocal minority. Among them are hypocrites: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me' (Matthew 15:8).
Others are leaders who 'will come in My Name... and will deceive many' (Matthew 24:5). They 'swear by My Name falsely' (Leviticus 19:12), and 'Prophesy falsely... I have not sent them, says the Lord' (Jeremiah 29:9).
Here's the thing: bearing the Name of Christ is no small matter. It means bearing the cross of Christ, which is our greatest gift and heaviest responsibility. We're talking about eternity; 'This is My Name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations' (Exodus 3:15).
Given this name, what are the star qualities of a true Christian?
1) Freedom: 'Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free' (Galatians 5:1). What about 'An ambassador in chains' (Ephesians 6:20), like Paul? Imprisoned Christians who pay the highest price will receive the greatest reward. Spiritual liberty precedes physical liberty. Both will surely come.
2) Peace: 'Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, 'Peace to you' ' (Luke 24:36). 'Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' (John 14:27). Entertainment can bring confusion, even chaos. You are God's peace within it.
3) Suffering: 'For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps' (1 Peter 2:21). Therefore, 'If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter' (1 Peter 4:16). As muscle is built in pain, strength is built in suffering. Look beyond the grit to the glory.
4) Love: 'By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another' (John 13:35). Love is the brightest quality of a true Christian. 'Christian' should not be translated to the rest of the world as one who practices accusation, apathy, or asset acquisition--but as one who practices love.
Therein is stage name #10: Christian.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Stage Names series.