When you call yourself FastMail, you’re really signalling one of your core features in the name, and that means we have to always think about it in everything we do.
Now, put “Christian” in the place of “FastMail,” and see what that statement says about those of us who follow the Way.
Jesus is not a “feature,” of course. But the point is that he is at the center of our faith. We wear the name Christian as a God-given name. It’s the only name given to followers of the Christ. Not even his church has a name as such. It has many wonderful descriptions, but no name. Like the moon, since there is only one church, it apparently doesn’t need a name.
The name Christian ties us to Christ. It is used three times in the New Testament, and each use signals important truths about the people who wear it. It means one who follows Christ. Here are the three verses where it appears:
and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
Acts 11.26 ESV
And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
1 Peter 4.16
The word “Christian” is a noun. The Bible never uses it as an adjective, as we often do. We talk about Christian faith, Christian colleges, and Christian ministries. One wonders if something special is not lost in such uses.
Some versions insert the word into other verses where it does not occur. They try to make the sense of a word or phrase more clear by inserting it. But might not the richness of the name Christian get muddied a bit by doing this?
The quote at the beginning of the article uses the phrase “core features.” Some people use the word “core” to talk about our faith, too. They say we have a “core gospel.” By that phrase, they want to cut out a lot of essential teaching in the Bible. They want to remove much of what makes the church distinctive, because they desire fellowship with denominations. By using the concept of “core gospel,” they want to pare down essential truth to a bare minimum. If someone uses the phrase in your hearing, beware! They are probably bringing a truncated, incomplete gospel.
Jesus is the single “core feature” of our faith. By that we mean he is at the center of our faith. If so, everything we do and all our message should tie in to him, in some way. If some idea or practice cannot be shown to relate to Christ, maybe we ought to question it.
That means we have to continually study how our life is changed by his incarnation, birth, life, teachings, works, death, burial, resurrection, continued presence, mission, present reign, second coming, authority, example, love, commandments — you get the idea. The Lord Jesus Christ is always on our minds and touches every single thread of our lives.
Or to use the last phrase of the opening quote, “that means we have to always think about [Christ] in everything we do.”
Three uses of the word Christian in the New Testament, therefore, immediately transport us to the richness of four gospel accounts of a Savior whose words and actions would overflow the world with books were they all written down; to a history packed full of detail with a pattern for the church of following Christ and repeated instructions on how to become a follower; to a pack of letters that spell out the beautiful implications of being wholly in Christ and of showing the glory of Christ at home, in the church, and in the world; to a dramatic, powerful prophecy of the victory of our Master in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds; and to an entire Testament which points toward his coming and testifies to a God who successfully implemented an eternal plan for our reconciliation and whose promises can always be trusted.
So our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the core who touches everything, all the way out to the edges and beyond. That is why we always think about him in everything we do.
“Christ is all and in all” Colossians 3.11.
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