The Term “Christian”: Do We Reclaim It or Abandon It?

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10 Comments
  1. Cleanse it. By living up to the potential of it. Making it understood in the world to be fully worthy to bear the word “Messiah,” which is contained within it. Making that term understood to be synonymous with Jesus Christ’s true teachings.

    There have always been “true Christians” though they are largely unsung. God knows them, though, and His reward is in His hand.

  2. I am reminded by this topic that the term “religious abuse” is a relatively new one in religious/Christian circles as to counseling applications. It simply refers to a dysfunctional codependency control established in place of a healthy relationship with God and his people by any religion. It reminds me of the so-called Priest abuse tails coming forth in this nation, and now from quite traditional Catholic nations (Ireland, Span, Italy, etc.). This means that that example of abuse, in that case of a predatory pedophile sexual nature, is also associated with a term almost as old as Christian, i.e. Catholic (universal church in some circles, Roman church in others). Is their church redeemable, or should it be renamed, restructured, and repentantly renewed? One of its basic flaws is insisting that being a eunuch for the Kingdom is a prerequisite for church ministry, which is a fatally flawed notion at the core of that group’s own current and past structure. By applying the wrong definition to a real need, the reality was distorted to unreality, even to evil outcome, idolatry, and evil.

    Is Christianity in a similar state? Do we need to revert to the more elemental understanding of being followers of the “Way”?

  3. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet

    In today’s culture, to refer to oneself as a “Christian” has become as meaningless and as fraught with misunderstanding as many other words that have been abducted due to overuse and abuse. “Familiarity breeds contempt” and all that.

    Since “Christian” means, literally, “Of Christ” or “Christ Follower”, and “Christ” is the Greek translation for Messiah, one can make an argument that “Messianic” is as correct as any appellation. If further clarification is desired, one could add “Jew” or “Gentile”, though that could provoke an argument over “Two House Theology”.

    Do you really think Adonai ever meant for it to be this complicated?

    Shalom!

  4. Hello Dr Brown. I wanted to ask you, kinda off topic, what your take is on Matthew 23:1-2. It is being used quite a bit by rabbinics as proof that we as messianic believers are to listen to the rabbis. Can you comment on that?

  5. Dr. Brown,

    In your broadcast on “The Term ‘Christian’: Do We Reclaim It or Abandon It?”, more than a few of
    the comments seemed to be about what it means to take the title of “Christian” to ourselves. To be “Christ-like” is the foundation of the term. To be followers of Christ, as the Apostles were first named in Antioch, while it was initially, perhaps, a derogatory slur, soon became an association with their Lord that the converts proudly bore and they were honored to suffer for Christ. I think we’ve become far too removed from the torments that the early believers endured. The Apostles sacrificed their very lives to bring the knowledge of God’s salvation to as many as they possibly could. They were crucified, burned as torches to light Nero’s garden at night! They were cast to the lions to be torn to pieces. We have become complacent to the sacrifices they endured and the hardships and castigation they were tried by for what they believed in. However, we see clearly how difficult it is to hold fast to Jesus’ teachings in this age and country where we have the freedom to do so. We, as Christians in the United States have suffered nothing in comparison. Nothing! If we had, even, every law of the land stacked in our favor, it still would not make us “better” Christians. Our true colors show only when they are put to the test.

    However, for the Jewish believers to “not” want to take a term that is Greek in origin for their own is readily understandable considering the atrocities and anti-semitism that was promoted by the supposed “church”, not to mention the Christian Crusaders! When we understand that “Christ” is translated as “Messiah” there should be no problem with the terms being interchangeable. But, we can certainly understand why some Jewish believers do not want to be associated as Christian because of the history of oppression of the Jews and, of course, by the precursor of antichrist–Hitler! I don’t believe it’s as simple as mere terminology. In being able to witness to Jewish people, it’s better to identify themselves as “Messianic Jews”, as “Christian” is anathema to most Jews, for good reason. That being said, I strongly urge both Jew and Gentile to read again Romans 3 and 12, 1 Cr. 6, 10 and 12. Ephesians 2 and 4, and Col. 3. All of our endeavors should begin and end at the foot of the Cross.

    So, how do we regain those things that set us apart from the world around us? Well, they were called Christians because they adhered to the teachings of Christ. It’s been to our shame that we have “left our first love” and have been assimilated back into the things of this world. And we have embraced the things of this world to such an extent that there is no outward difference between us and non-believers. Neither has our speech any distinction from the world at large. Neither is our dress any different than the half-naked models on every commercial we see. And I do mean men and women. I have even seen these kinds of commercials inbetween various programs on religious networks! I was flabbergasted–I could not believe what I was seeing! We have professing Christians “living together” rather than marrying. They party all night on Saturday and then drag themselves to Church on Sunday, leaving, no doubt, feeling very self-righteous. They are very happy that “they are not like that sinner” whose only fault is that he doesn’t know Christ. As Paul said, “I say this to our shame.” Not only is “the inside of the cup not clean”, as attested to by the words and gross insults that come out of our mouths, but, just as importantly, Jesus is maligned as much by our outward appearance, which is “worldly” to say the least. So, the Christian says to the non-believer, “you should be righteous like me”, and the non-believer says, “I don’t want to be like you; I’d rather be humble.” So, what do we possess that they don’t? Shouldn’t we demonstrate that we know how to possess our vessels with honor? We no longer practice what we preach. I know it’s an old cliche, but, it’s true. We no longer honor Christ in a way that others see our joy and peace and want what we have. What they see is that we are, probably even more than they, afraid of those things we see coming on the earth. We hear phrases like, “financial armageddon”, we read books about who is the antichrist, where he will come from, the world will be obliterated by nuclear weapons, Islam is going to take over America, etc., etc., etc.. And we look to find an earthly messiah by way of a candidate for a government office, forgetting, even, that “the powers that be are ordained by God.” It’s true that the forces of evil are lining up their chess pieces, but, our King is our rear-guard. He has every square covered! In fact, not one hair on our heads will perish. (and if you don’t have any hair, maybe He has it stored up for you.) 🙂 The servants of God are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.

    And that brings me to another observation that weighs on me very heavily. Fear. Fear from the pulpits, fear from the political pundits, fear of Armageddon, fear of Iran, fear of Muslims, fear, fear, fear! It’s everywhere. As a matter of truth, you could make a fast million by writing about fear and all that is wrong with everything…oh whoa is me! This is not the mark of a true Christian. “True love casts out fear.” “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but, of power and love and of a sound mind.” How will any of us endure when the “true” test of our faith is that we have not yet striven to the shedding of our blood for the gospel as the Apostles did; as our Lord shed His blood for us? Those Christians in North Korea suffer, some to death. Those in China suffer persecution, some to death. Those in Muslim countries suffer, some to death. We need to be a living example of our faith and communion with the Lord, not just in our protests against a very real animosity towards all things Christian (and Jewish, I might add). Perhaps this animosity stems, in part, from the hypocrisy that we display. And we should remember that if you are living in a Communist country and you accept the Gospel message that Messiah died for your sins, you don’t stop being a Communist. If you are living in an Arab country, you don’t stop being an Arab, you don’t stop being Korean or Chinese. The change is the “new man” inside and this is manifested on the outside. They don’t let the fear of persecution hinder them from following Christ. Fear in reverence for God is healthy and we know it is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of man is worthless and worse yet, it separates us from the love of God. Fear also says that we do not trust in God only. If, then, every word spoken by God will come to pass, why are we afraid when we see it being manifested before our very eyes? “For our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” We know how the story ends! For us, no matter what, it ends in joy and salvation, in rejoicing that we have overcome. “Be not overcome by evil, but, overcome evil with good.” He doesn’t say, “load up your guns, because the enemy is coming”, He says, “Because evil shall multiply and be greatly increased, the love of many shall wax cold.” We need to turn our fear into joy for the Lord is near. Let’s manifest the gifts of the Spirit for all to see. Let them be jealous for the peace of mind that we possess; for the absolute certainty that we are the children of the Most High God. There are no human laws to which we can look to in fulfilling the will of God. His laws are only to be found in the Word of God. “You know the Author, now read the Book!” Since Jesus is “the Word of God”, we might want to consider returning to the “author and finisher of our faith.” Our citizenship is in the Heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God. Let go of the pride of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the cares of this world and rejoice for our redemption draws near–very near. I proudly claim the name, “Christian”, and I pray, daily, that I am found worthy to obtain that Kingdom. We should strive to be “overcomers” rather than to be “overcome” by the world.

    Fellowship and families pulling together will become so much more imperative in the near future that we may want to begin working on it now. We will soon have to forfeit some things, that upon consideration you may find are unimportant anyway, for everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and we may be left with only our faith to see us through. And each other.

    Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed until the day of redemption. Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: Eph 4:32 And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.

    Psa 25:14 The secret of the LORD [is] with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
    Psa 27:1 [[[A Psalm] of David.]] The LORD [is] my light and my salvation: (“Yeshua”) whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
    Psa 27:3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this [will] I [be] confident.
    Psa 31:19 [Oh] how great [is] your goodness, which you have laid up for them that fear you; [which] you have wrought for them that trust in you before the sons of men!
    Psa 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD [is] upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
    Psa 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them.

    Zec 8:15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. Zec 8:16 These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: Zec 8:17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate, saith the LORD.

    We could reclaim what it truly means to follow Jesus by witnessing to those we are condemning. Christ died for that sinner too. Why not take another soul to heaven with you? The greatest gift you can give to anyone is the gift of eternal life. If you don’t feel up to being a witness to others for Christ, at least support those who can and do, and so pull some of them out of the very fire. It’s very good to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, but, we see the need to clothe as many as possible with the blessings of eternal life through Jesus. If we have already judged them, tried them and found them guilty, how can we then witness to them? How can we possibly expect them to want to hear us? Christ was not ashamed to be associated with sinners. He saught out the disenfranchised, the neglected, the outcasts, the mentally ill; He fed them, healed them and freely offered them salvation; there was no prerequisite. Are we offering them only condemnation? “For faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God”.

    Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

    Your Sister in Yeshua.

  6. Speaking for myself, THANK YOU Sheila. I took the liberty of copying your post (with the words, “Written by Sheila” on top) and saving it to my desktop so I can read it from time to time. I found it very inspiring!

  7. Ruth,

    You are aptly named! I’ve read your other posts as well, and I think we are, perhaps, kindred spirits. Thank you for your kind words.

    Your Sister in Yeshua.

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