Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

“The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26)

The name “Christian” came about as a nickname, rather than a conscious choice. It was not the product of a marketing drive, or the outcome of a discussion on branding, but rather people looked at the disciples and that’s the nickname which sprang to mind. They saw Peter, Paul and the rest and what marked them out was their loyalty to Christ.

Now, we don’t know anything about why the name came about but it is quite likely that it was not seen as a compliment. The name “Methodist” was also a nickname, and was used to mock Wesley and his friends for their ‘methodical’ style of Christianity. It is not hard to imagine that the disciples were being mocked for their continual talk of Christ, and their devotion to his cause. They were Christ-focussed, and aimed to be Christ-like. They were Christ-ians.

Here, then, is a challenging thought: if you moved into a new village, and no-one knew you or your background, would they come to the same conclusion? Would you be more noted for being a follower of Christ, than someone who has (or had) a particular job or a distinct hobby. Would you be nicknamed “Christian” because it is clear that he is the central guide and impulse of your life?

At Antioch, the inhabitants of that great city saw the disciples, and could see Christ in them. What would your nickname be?

Gregory of Nyssa

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:30–34) - On this day in AD395 Gregory of Nyssa breathed his last, aged around sixty. He was the son of aristocratic, Christian parents and his father’s mother was venerated as a saint: St Macrina the Elder. His mother’s mother had been martyred for her faith by the Romans.

“They had been with Jesus”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognised that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13) - They may have been uneducated, common men but they had been marked by their presence with Christ. The history of the church is littered with such men and women, people whose lives have been transformed by being with Jesus. Being with Jesus in prayer, in the reading of scripture and in worship. This is the engine which drives the church.

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