And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26)
Be A Christian First
Jeff Himmel relates the story of when he was in business school, Japan was the dominant economic challenger in the world. During the course of study in world business affairs, the focus was given to learn the customs of the Japanese. One such custom had to do with how they introduced themselves to others. Whenever someone would ask the name of someone in Japan, they would first tell them the company they worked for and then tell them their individual name. For example, a man working for Yamaha would first answer where he worked before telling his name. His value of what he did in life was greater than who he was. Jeff made a great point in the spiritual world that this is how Christians should live their life.
Everything about the life of a Christian begins with being a Christian. When the disciples at Antioch were first called Christians, there was a reason. Something in the pagan world stood out in the minds of those who recognized the disciples as followers of Jesus Christ. The attitudes of the disciples of Antioch impressed the world with who they were following. A Christian is a person who is a follower of Christ. Apparently, this was evident by those who saw the Antioch disciples interact with the community, one another, and the Roman government. Christians paid their taxes because Jesus said to render to Caesar what belongs to him. As a disciple of Jesus, forgiveness was a common trait among those of the church at Antioch. In the face of persecution, the disciples of Christ did not revile in return but accepted their plight with joy to suffer like Christ.
Too many Christians follow the example of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night. John does not disclose the reason for the visit under the cloak of darkness, but many of the leading Jews hid their faith in the man from Nazareth. In a dark world of compromise, many of God’s people move easily among the shadows of the world without anyone knowing they are disciples of Jesus Christ. Everyone should be identified as a Christian first before any other information is given about a person’s life. If an employer does not know his employee is a Christian, they should be ashamed. The community must be able to identify every member of the Lord’s body by the life they live, and the message shared in their lives. Neighbors should not have to wonder where the Christian is going every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday. As members of a local community, the home where the Christian lives are easily identifiable. Jesus warned those who were ashamed of Him in this life would be put to shame at the judgment.
Make a practice to let others know of the importance of Christ in your life. The disciples at Antioch were called Christians because their life reflected the glory of the risen Christ. Whether the name was given in derision or not, it was a name labeled after a manner of life that identified a person as a follower of Jesus. Let Jesus shine in your life. Show the world what is first!