Today in America there is a growing number of cultural Christians. These are people that believe and often voice that they are Christians and yet they have no time for Bible study, church worship or fellowship with believers (three signs of authentic Christianity). Many times they are vocal about what is right or wrong even though they lack understand in even basic Bible teachings. When questioned on why they think they are a Christian they give reasons like “I attended church when I was a child” or “I prayed a special prayer at an evangelism meeting” or “my momma told me I am one.” These reasons along with many others do not make an authentic Christian.
This is not a new problem. History is littered with people who claimed to be Christians and yet at the same time they lived at odds with many of Jesus’ teachings. The reason for such a disconnect is due to a lack of understanding of what a Christian really is.
“... And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26, NKJV).
The disciple were called Christians. They did not call themselves that. They were called that by the rest of Antioch. Just like we label sub groups in our society. Labels like nerd, jock, or emo. The label starts as a way for those outside the group to refer to the group. Sometimes the label is an insult. Sometimes the group embraces the label.
The disciples were called Christians. The people of Antioch saw something different in the disciple and gave them a distinct label. The difference they saw was foretold by Jesus.
- “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. (John 8:31, NKJV).
- “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, NKJV).
- “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:8, NKJV).
What the people of Antioch saw was a group that was centering their lives around Jesus’ teachings, loving one another, and bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, mercy, & grace. The disciples were joyfully following Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, and body. That is an authentic Christian.
It should be that way today. We shouldn’t have to call ourselves Christians. We should live in such a way that the society around us sees that we are true disciple. That we are ready and willing to welcome those outside into our group to share our love of Jesus with them.