Would You Know One If You Saw One?
A local businessman was teaching a Sunday School class of 4th grade boys and wanted especially to impress these boys because his own son was in the class. One Sunday during the lesson he asked, “Why do you suppose that people call me a Christian?” It was unusually quiet, so he asked again. “Why do you suppose that people call me a Christian?” Still no response. Mr. Jackson paused…scratched his chin and repeated his question a third time. “Come now boys, think. Why do people call me a Christian?” Out of the silence, his son finally spoke up, “Maybe they don’t know you!”
What is a Christian? Always a fair topic for discussion but suppose we rephrase it: Would you know one if you saw one?
As we have heard recently, the early followers of Jesus never called themselves Christians. That title appears three times in the New Testament, and is always offered by the secular world, first in derision and later in respect. Those little “Christs” chose to call themselves other names like Saints… reflecting their spiritual health and holiness, Believers… denoting their faith, Disciples…. referencing their learning from the Lord, and brothers and sisters… referring to their fellowship. And how those Christ-followers loved to be together. Actually, togetherness was their most cherished and meaningful experience. In fact the word “saint” meaning one, who is God’s very own, appears 99 times in the New Testament… and it is always plural. Always saints …you can’t have just one. A saint ain’t… they come in twos.
Just as coals in a fire need the warmth of the other embers, or they grow cold and die, we need the fellowship of each other to keep our fire burning. Paul, writing to the Hebrews, said, "Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together…and encourage one another." Now that’s a switch! I thought I went to church to get what I needed and instead I’m supposed to be giving other people what they need. If I need love …I should give love. If I’m lonely and just wish someone would smile at me…I should find someone to grin at. Maybe that’s what Jesus really meant when He said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?
Well, let’s think about that… and what we can do to look a little more like the Christ-followers we say we are.