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The name ‘Christian’ is not a title, it’s a description. Perhaps this little piece of information will caution us in using it.

Ironically that description that was first used in Antioch 2000 years ago. (Acts 11:26) Barnabas upon arriving at this faith community of both Jews and Gentiles was overwhelmed with evidence of God’s grace. There was evidence to suggest they lived the way of Jesus.

As a title it is used to separate, and subjugate but as a description it is used to describe the influence of Jesus in someone’s life.

History is our witness that the title ‘Christian’ has often been used and abused for power.  It is used by people usurping authority over minorities.  I have seen it used to justify the poverty of pagan persons, peoples and nations.  We witness the title used to justify our selfish wealth as a blessing of God.

But the reality is that when that description is used as a title it often nullifies the very thing it was supposed to represent.  A Christian wouldn’t likely apply the description to themselves, where others would use it to describe one who follows the way of Jesus.  Jesus said they will know your my followers (Christians) not because that is what you call yourself…but because of your love. (John 13:35)  Today the term isn’t any longer equated with one who follows the challenging teachings of Jesus as much as the teachings of the Bible.  Perhaps a better title for these people should be Biblians.

The sad reality is that when you have a Church that uses ‘Christian’ as a title, then they create a religion called ‘Christianity’ and they spend their energies selling a name not the life.

Christianity and Christians are flawed like everyone else.  When we see the title ‘Christian’ in our news headlines it is usually associated with entitlement and protectionism and rarely refers to the love that Jesus says should define it.

It is a sobering reminder that we aren’t trying to bring people to Christianity, but to Christ – not to Church but to faith.  Christian’ is not a title that offers a better life, but it is a way of living that influences the way we see and experience it.  

So next time someone tells you they are a Christian, ask them if they mean by ‘title’ or ‘description’.