I ran across some unusual names online:
- Howdy Ledbetter
- Rose Bush
- Flex Plexico
- Azalia Snail
- Pearl Button
- Yourhighness Morgan
- Stan Still
- Justin Case
- Barb Dwyer
- and Anna Sasin
I wondered, how do people cope with their names when those names make people laugh? I mean, can you imagine:
“What’s your name?”
“Hi. But what’s your name?”
See what I mean?
These days, there’s a name that people laugh about all the time.
It’s the name: “Christian.”
In Acts we read that Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch and they taught the disciples there; and we read these disciples, “… were called Christians first at Antioch “ (Acts 11:26, NIV). So “Christian” was a descriptive name for followers of “Christ,” the Anointed One.
And the name stuck.
Christian doctrine developed from the teachings of Jesus and the inspired writings of the Apostles—and as the Gospel of Christ was preached after His resurrection, many embraced the Savior.
The second mention of the name “Christian” was in Acts 26. Herod Agrippa II told Paul, “Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me!” (Acts 26:28, The Message).
The new believers scattered under great persecution. It was dangerous to name the name of Christ or be identified as one of His followers.
Members of the early church faced abuse and even martyrdom — much like Christians in many countries today — but still, they claimed that wonderful name!
The apostles encouraged the believers to embrace their new name with courage and joy. They were exhorted, “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16, NIV).
This is a message we need in our churches today.
Believers who claim the name of Jesus are generally accepted in secular society until they stand up for the uncompromising truth of scripture.
We cringe when we see Christians being martyred in hideous ways around the world, but there’s another kind of persecution going on. Almost weekly now in the United States and much of the Western world, we read reports of Christians facing harsh criticism and public persecution for their stand of faith.
Just today (5-17-15), I read about an Air Force general who spoke of God in a talk, and his critics are pressing for a court martial! A demand letter was sent claiming the general’s God-honoring words were “brazenly illicit and wholly unconstitutional, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing.”
The general, who was wearing his uniform at the time, simply gave a speech for a private Christian organization. Then he asked those in attendance to pray for Defense Department leaders and troops preparing to be deployed.
There was a time in America when the General’s words would be normal and accepted, but not today. There are forces at work that seek to silence vocal, Bible-believing Christians. Enemies of the cross would have believers cower … become more “tolerant” … and never claim that Jesus is “The way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).*
The truth is, the disciple is not above his master (Matthew 10:24-25). Hebrews 13:13-14 reminds us that we may, like Jesus, have to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” It may take great courage to claim His name in our increasingly secularized country.
I can just imagine the apostles as they left the Sanhedrin, “rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41, NIV).
Can you imagine yourself suffering disgrace, persecution and even abuse “for the Name”?
It may be in our future, fellow Christians. We need to prepare our hearts.
And be encouraged. Someday our Lord’s mighty, matchless name will ring throughout the universe. At the sound of His name, every knee will bow! (Philippians 2:10)
Have you struggled to stand up for being a Christian? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage.
* For further study on this topic, read this article:
“How Can Christians Say Jesus Is the Only Way to God?”