November 2023 | Persecution: The First Martyr—Stephen

"What's in a Name?"

"What's in a Name?"

Dr. John K. Mathew

Shakespeare’s character, Juliet, asks, “What’s in a name?” 

Actually, there is much in a name.  A name indicates a meaning or an idea. A name defines character.  That is why God changed the names of so many saints in the Old Testament. The name, “Christian,” has meaning as well.  

First of all, a Christian is one who clearly speaks the gospel of Christ. It is necessary for us to give a clear verbal presentation of the gospel to others.  Paul tells us in Romans 10:14, “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher?” 

There are three other ways in which the name “Christian” bears meaning: 

A Christian shows the life of Christ. 

A Christian bears the likeness of Christ. 

A Christian keeps the law of Christ. 

Jesus is not a law giver, and one is not a Christian because he obeys the laws of God, but he obeys the laws because he is a Christian. 

The Apostle Paul was such a true Christian. That is why he boldly said, “Follow my example as

I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). He admonished his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, to set an example for believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). 

Our vocabulary easily identifies our cultural development, level of education and (in the Indian context)  our caste or religion. Our vocabulary also defines the nature of our spirituality. 

Therefore, the Bible strictly emphasizes the need to limit words, avoid unnecessary talk so that our inevitable talk will always express grace, seasoned with salt. 

Paul tells us that our whole life, along with our words, must reflect the life of Christ. It requires us to adopt the attitude of Christ.  Two areas we must develop are faith and love like that of our Lord Jesus Christ, the embodiment of love. We must display a faith like that expressed in the heroes of faith. 

Paul tells us that our entire life must express the purity that we find in Joseph, Daniel, Peter and others. In a nutshell, our lives should preach good sermons right along with our words. 

Francis d’Assisi once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to town to preach. Honored at the invitation, the monk readily accepted the invitation. All day long he and Francis walked through the streets, byways, and alleys, and even into the suburbs.  They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. 

At the day’s end, the two headed back home. Not once had Francis addressed a crowd. Greatly disappointed,  his young companion said “I thought we were going to town to preach.” 

Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking.  We were seen by many, and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk.” 

Let us each bear the name of “Christian” in both our words and our deeds.

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