Our names are very important to us! Parents should carefully choose names for their children since they will wear them for a lifetime. From an early age, we put our own imprint on our names – for good or not so good. At some point, Jesse James became known as a bank robber; Blackbeard as a pirate; and Benedict Arnold earned the title of “Traitor”. The same could be said for numerous Bible characters such as Judas Iscariot or Barnabas. The wise man declared in Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
What are we known for? When people hear our name, what comes to their minds? Hopefully, they think of something good and positive. Perhaps it’s our honesty or integrity or kindness. Cornelius was a Roman soldier – a centurion – with a good name. But he lacked something. You and I can have a good name among men, but we need an additional name to our birth or married name – and that name is “Christian”. Such a necessary name is only mentioned three times in the New Testament. A quick look at these passages reveals three things we can learn about this name. But first, the term “Christian” means “of, or belonging to, Christ.”
The first mention of “Christian” is in Acts 11:26 which identifies us (“Christians”) as disciples or followers of Christ. This certainly fits the definition given in the previous paragraph. Next is Acts 26:28 which is interpreted in many ways in our translations. But the one thing not subject to dispute is that “Christian” is something we choose to become – a choice we make. Sometimes we sing a song that puts this choice into words: I have decided to follow Jesus… The final scripture is 1 Peter 4:16 that indicates being a Christian may involve painful consequences – “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”
Are people shocked to learn we are Christians? Is Christian just another name to us or does it describe whose we are? Perhaps the apostle Paul described this identity best in Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”