In a blog post titled “Christian as an adjective. I don’t think that word means what you think that word means”, Mark Love discusses the use of the descriptive term “Christian.” He highlights the fact that the term is first used in Antioch (Acts 11:26) where disciples from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds first began to work and worship together. He senses some significance in the fact that the believers were first called Christians in a time and place which exemplified inclusion rather than exclusion.
He goes on to contrast how the word is used today among many believers: “It strikes me that when we use the word Christian as an adjective, it’s almost for the opposite purpose. We use it to identify who we are in distinction from those around us. So, we have Christian bookstores or Christian schools or Christian news or music or Christian businesses. It’s a little like a rhetorical gated community. The rhetorical use of the word Christian as an adjective represents an attempt to maintain the privilege of a Christian culture. And I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what the word should mean. That’s what the principalities and powers do -- protect privilege, divide the world into affinity groups. No Kingdom of God there.I love Craig Van Gelder’s observation that somehow Christians in North America have figured out how to be of the world and not in the world” (dei-liberations.com).
After reflecting on these words, I think Love offers a valid criticism. I’m aware that we are to keep ourselves from being stained by the world around us (James 1:27) but that doesn’t mean we have to retreat from the world. Jesus, who was the greatest example of purity and holiness, didn’t let who He was keep Him from those to which He was called to minister (Luke 19:10). May we always seek to emulate our Lord by refusing to use the name “Christian” to separate ourselves in a way that is detrimental to the purposes of the kingdom of God.
God loves you!