Monday, February 20, 2006

What's in a Name?

On a forum I visit less and less frequently, one of the discussion topics this week was "why we call ourselves ___________ (a particular denominational movement)." I don't belong to the group and it's a good thing because I wanted to just shout back my response, which probably wouldn't be a good idea. So I'll blaahhg it here instead and please bear with me!

Last summer I spent a few months reading through the book of Acts. One verse that jumped out at me was chapter 11, the latter part of verse 26: "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Wow. From the commentaries I've read, it is not clear whether this name was given by their enemies, themselves, or other citizens. But it occurred to me that it really matters not what I call myself; what matters most is how others see me?

I used to explain to others my "stand" on certain issues, my avoidance of certain vices and my generally different lifestyle with a blanket declaration: I'm a Christian. In recent years, I've come to understand that people aren't really interested in what I call myself. What matters is how I live. Calling myself a Christian makes me no more like Christ than calling myself another nationality. When others see my life, does it reflect the name of Christ? How do I respond to pressure and negative situations at work? Do I reach out to those whom I know are struggling? Can I get out of my comfort zone enough to think about what others may be going through?

It's been said that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. The same could be said for our Christian witness as well. I don't think they care what we call ourselves so much as that how we live bears our our calling.


MacroMoments said...

I don't think they care what we call ourselves so much as that how we live bears our our calling.

How very true, Dianne. The world has enough labels as it is. I like your point of view.

Cindy said...

EXCELLENT post, Dianne! Interestingly, our adult Sunday School class just had a discussion on what it means to glorify God. Your post underscored what we came up's simply living in a way that increases God's good reputation here on earth.