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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Abandoning the name of Christ

During the first half of my life, if someone had asked me if I was a Christian, I would proudly have answered in the affirmative, possibly even using the words 'of course' to reinforce the certainty with which I was willing to confess my allegiance to this group. These days, when I'm asked that question, I flinch. It is not that I have become ashamed of Christ, or that I have abandoned my faith. Not at all! If anything, I am even more firmly settled in my belief in God the Father, Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. I flinch, because of the stigma that surrounds the word Christian.
I want to interrupt my own train of thought here to first take a look at the meanings of the words Christ and Christian.  Christ comes from the Greek word Kristos which means 'anointed one' or 'chosen one'. This term is used to refer to Jesus, the Son of God, anointed and chosen by the Father as the last sacrificial Lamb that would bring about a restored relationship between God and mankind. This was achieved through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, by which He has made atonement for all of our sins, bringing forgiveness about.
The word Christian is also taken from the Greek Kristen, and simply refers to a follower of Christ, someone who believes in Jesus, as He personifies what I summarized in a nutshell above. It is therefore a word which associates us with Christ. More than that, this word also entails that, on a lesser scale, we too have been anointed by God and have been chosen to do His will.
This is why it hurts me in the core of my being when my knee-jerk reaction to being called a Christian, is to flinch. I am not ashamed of being associated with Jesus Christ. I also know that I have been selected and anointed to do God's will, as has every other believer in the history of the world.
What makes me flinch is the mud that has been caked around the name of Christ through the abuse of that name by Christians. We have essentially taken the gospel of the good news of Jesus and rolled with it in the mud. We have trampled it, abused it, used it for our own gain, used it to abuse others (be they fellow believers or not), we have hidden our dark works behind the facade of religion and honesty and in the process we have made Christ the laughing stock of the world. We have stripped Him of His holiness. We have stripped Him of His miracle working power. We have made Him a cheap byword in the eyes of the world.
Today Christians, or should I rather choose to use the word believers, will openly shirk and tell you that they do not believe in miracles anymore. They do not practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as this is off-putting to society. Faith and religion has a time and a place, and should certainly not interfere with daily life!
Earlier this week I was at table with a new acquaintance at a small party when she piped up about a friend she has at home who would start preaching to anyone within earshot at social gatherings, making them feel guilty and dampening the party spirit. When this was directed at the woman at the table, she asked the 'preacher' if she believed in extraterrestrial life. She answered in the negative. This woman, in her own self-proclaimed witty wisdom, then responded by quoting from the Bible where Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us and that He would return to fetch us when this was ready. She concluded by asking how this 'preacher' then could not believe in extraterrestrial life. This was a good joke around the table.
I did not laugh. I had heard of this before, though I had hoped I would never be witness to it myself. When the scribes and Pharisees in the times of the Gospels, wanted to trick Jesus, they also came at Him with God's written word, twisting it to suit their own purpose. Is this what Christianity has come to? Shame on us!
This past Sunday I was listening to Angus Buchan talking on the television. Even though this was not the topic of his sermon, he too mentioned in passing how he shirks at being called a Christian these days. Perhaps the table conversation the previous evening, along with this remark by Angus, is what prompted the writing of this blog. I don't know. All I know, is that it is overdue in saying.
I do not think we should abandon the name of Christ. I do not think we should step away from the word Christian, disassociating ourselves with it. I think we should make a point of restoring it to what we had inherited from the first believers, the first Christians.
God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Neither the Father, nor Jesus, nor the Holy Spirit has changed one iota. If God worked miracles through the first believers, He still can and will work it through us today. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are as relevant and applicable today, as ever! We are still chosen by the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, and anointed with the Holy Spirit to work miracles and signs and wonders in the world today.
It is time for us Christians to step up to the plate and to show our fellow believers who God really is. Not to mention, clearing the weeds from the good seeds in the community of Christians. We should hold each other accountable. We should live transparent lives where we cannot hide dark works behind a facade of Christianity. Frankly, if what we say dampens the mood of the party spirit, we are entertaining the wrong spirit anyway! We should reintroduce people to the fellowship and anointing of the Holy Spirit of God!

This article by no means attempts to criticize Angus Buchan for what he said - it was much rather written from a place of compassion, for as I've said, I have shared those same sentiments and will continue to do so, until the wrongs have been put right.

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