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Christ's Letters of Reference

The other day I saw something on Facebook that initially encouraged me…and then discouraged me. It was the picture of a famous celebrity with a quote about being a Christian and reading the Bible every day. Here’s how my thinking went that sort of reveals the transition…

  • Initial encouraging thought: “Wow, that’s really cool.”
  • “I didn’t even know he was a Christian…”
  • “I guess I didn’t know he was a Christian because of the movies he makes…”
  • “If people think he’s a Christian, are they going to think it’s okay to watch his movies?”
  • “Hmm…if people think it’s okay to watch his movies, will they also think it’s okay to do the things he does in his movies since he says he’s a Christian?”
  • “Hmmm…maybe he shouldn’t have said he’s a Christian…”
  • Final discouraging thought: “Man, this is discouraging.”

When I used to teach, I told my students, “You’re part of a team now. Whatever you do reflects on everyone else that’s part of our team. If you do something bad, you’re making everyone else on this team look bad.” When I used to coach I’d say, “Your name might be on the back of the jersey, but there’s another name on the front and whatever you do reflects on everyone else wearing that name.”

In the early church, believers were initially called followers of The Way (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 23, 22:4, 14, 24:22, perhaps because of Jesus’ claim to be The Way in John 14:6). Acts 11:26 says disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. That’s one of only three places the word Christian occurs used in the Bible (the other two being Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16). All the word Christian means is “follower of Christ.” That’s it. There’s no lengthy definition explaining what they look like, how they behave, etc. The world develops their opinions of Christians and Christ by what they see from Christians. In 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 Paul said, “You are our letters of Christ known and read by all men, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” If for no other reason it would be better if people didn’t call themselves Christians when they’re poorly representing Christ and the rest of the team, because of what it says to the rest of the world.

Also, here’s Sunday’s sermon, Luke 3:21-23a Jesus: Fulfiller of All Righteousness, and Wednesday’s message, Gen 28:10-18 & John 1:43-51 Our Ladder to Heaven.

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