Today’s Reading: Acts 11-13
Today’s Reflection: Acts 11:25
25) So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26) and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
As we see in today’s reflection text, the name ‘Christian’ wasn’t always associated with the followers of Jesus. For the three and a half years of Jesus ministry, and through the years following His ascension, as the apostles began spreading the Gospel to the world, the practice of accepting Jesus as the Christ, as lord and savior, and following Him was simply known as ‘The Way’.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
It was among the people of Antioch that the followers of Jesus in the way first came to be known as Christians. And perhaps because there are many ways, but only one Jesus Christ, the name Christian has persisted as the name by which Jesus followers have commonly been known throughout history and all around the world. This naming, like all other practices in Christianity, had a specific origin. It didn’t come out of nowhere, it came from somewhere. Everything Christians do comes from somewhere, including these practices:
- Christians worshiping as large congregations in large buildings, many filled with statues and covered with stained-glass windows.
- Christian worship being led by professional clergy—pastors and worship leaders—in front of a passive audience.
- Christians dressing up in their finest clothing for weekly worship.
- Christians gathering only once a week as a church (perhaps two or three times, for the handful of members who attend weekly prayer meetings and/or youth worship).
- Christians merely being members of a church with active involvement in ministry (lay ministry, of course) being something optional.
As we read the account of the first century church in Acts, it becomes clear that they did none of these things. So all of these practices originated somewhere. The questions is, where? For what purpose? And for who’s service? It is all too easy for the slow crush of tradition to transform the true worship of God into something else over time. It is essential for us as Christians to understand where our Christian practices come from and whether we are truly honoring God with them or not.
Mark 7:5-9 – 5) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6) And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8) You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9) And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!