After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (John 13:12-15)
Read: Zechariah 9:1 – 14:21
Relate: In the book of Acts the word translated “Christian” (Christianos) appears twice and both times it seems to have a derogatory context. The first is in Acts 11:26 where the people of Antioch coined the nickname and the second is when Herod tells Paul, “Almost you persuade me to become a “Christian”. Often I hear the meaning of this given as “little Christs”. That is not quite right. Another common misconception is that it is a slave term since the “ianos” is often the ending of a slave’s name. This is actually a bit closer to the truth since that ending would mean “belonging to”. So someone named Gregianos would most likely be a slave of someone else named Greg. But at this time someone who was considered a loyal citizen of Rome would be called a Kaisarianos. If we understand that to mean, “One belonging to Caesar” or “One loyal to Caesar” then it would only make sense that Christianos was coined as a contrast. They are not loyal citizens of Rome because they follow a different King. When you keep in mind that the cult of Rome was how the empire knit and held itself together this charge of disloyalty was a very serious one. At best Christians would be considered unpatriotic. Considering how Rome responded to this rising group, treasonous is a more accurate view of how they were perceived.
The only other time Christian is used in the Bible is in Peter’s first letter. Here, he is urging the believers to take that mark of shame and carry it as a badge of honor. He writes: If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian [literally Christianoi “people belonging to Christ”], do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
React: “Little Christ”. “Slave of Christ”. “One who belongs to, or is called by Christ”. Or Peter’s use of the plural “People of Christ”. However you parse it, the implication is the same. Those to whom the derogatory name is attached are the ones who are obedient to Christ. They are His followers. They are the ones who are doing their best to live out the example He set in their situation.
Today that word means so many different things to so many different people in so many different situations that it is almost useless. There are some who want to junk the word and use something else. There are others who bypass it for the descriptor “follower of Jesus” or some such. Not me. No matter what that name might mean to others, I know what it means to me. I pray that I might be worthy to be given the name Christianos, one who is called by Christ. I strive to be worthy of being one of the Christianoi, the people who belong to Christ. I pray that the grace lavished out on me would be evident through the life I lead. I pray that I would always be obedient to His command, “Do as I have done.”
God, I want to be known as a Christian. I belong to You. Help me to live and to walk out my life in such a way that this truth is demonstrated. Let me take as a badge of honor the derogatory terms used for Your people today. Let them call me a radical. Let me be known as a “super Christian” if that is what it takes for people to know and describe the truth that I am serious about following You. I am a Christianos and I belong to the Christianoi. Help me to be a faithful follower of You who is marked as one who does as You have done.