Monday, November 30, 2009


I have heard that Christians were originally called "people of the way." So, I Googled to see what information I could get to confirm this. You would be amazed at the number of sites which Google referenced. There were over 350,000,000! Needless to say, I didn't feel inclined to take advantage of the vast resources available! I looked at about 150 sites and found some rather disturbing material. One site sounds like it is written by folks who had access to a computer in the asylum. It apparently is some New Age Guru's idea of a celestial religion, and uses several biblical terms to support the lunacy. I would say it was unbelievable, but believe it or not, it has a following.

The reason why I felt inclined to delve into the subject was from something said in The Shack. Jesus is talking to Mack and says that He did not come to start a religion. He came to establish a relationship between Himself and His creation. The term "Christian" is used three times in the New Testament: Acts 11:26; 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16. There are nine chapters and several years of the history of the early church which occurred before someone in Antioch first called disciples of Jesus "Christians." Apparently it caught on, because Luke and Peter refer to believers as Christians. Today's definition of the term means "a follower of Jesus Christ." Many pastors have taught that believers in Christ were called "people of the way" because Jesus is The Way, and His followers lived their lives like He did. But it would seem to me that the Bible would use the term more if it were so. Instead, followers of Christ were mostly called "believers," disciples," and "children (of God)."

Christianity is a religion. But God doesn't want or need more religions; there are multitudes of them. What He wants is people who recognize that He loves them, and who love Him in return. If one loves God, every effort will be made to please Him, to conform to His character, do good, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. Religion produces rules; relationship produces a way of life lived in harmony with the will of God. We know what pleases Him and what angers Him. If we love Him, we will show it in our lives and in the way we live.

So, whether we call ourselves "Christians," "believers," "disciples," "followers," etc., what really matters is that we love God, and serve Him by loving our fellow man. The term "Christian" has become virtually hated by non-Christians because of what they see as hypocrisy. What they think they see is people breaking the rules of a religion; what they are actually seeing is people who do not resemble Christ. The name doesn't matter. We can call ourselves any of several reasonable titles, but it is what others call us that counts. Hopefully, those living lives dedicated to loving and serving will be seen as Christ-like after the Rose of Sharon. God bless.

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