Summary: A look at what it means to be a Christian
SERIES: “BE NEW”
What’s in a name? In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks that very question. She follows that question with this comment: “That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet’s families are feuding – the Montagues and the Capulets. But Romeo and Juliet are in love. They cannot express their love publicly because of the problems between their families. So Juliet, in her famous, balcony soliloquy, asks why they cannot forsake their names and go on with their love for each other: “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”
Is a name important? Several years back, Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks offered WGN- Chicago Radio sports-talk show host David Kaplan $50,000 to change his name legally to “Dallas Maverick.” Kaplan politely declined to do so but Cuban made the offer a bit sweeter. He offered to pay Kaplan $100,000 to change his name and also to donate $100,000 to Kaplan’s favorite charity if he would just take the name for one year.
Kaplan did some soul-searching. He was bombarded by e-mails from listeners to his show who said he was crazy to turn down that much money. Kaplan decided to keep his name the same. He explained his reasoning by stating, “I’d be saying I’d do anything for money, and that bothers me. My name is my birthright. I’d like to preserve my integrity and credibility.”
Last week, we started our first message series of the year: “Be New.” The first message in the series was about “New Birth.” When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we receive a “new
birth” and become “new creations”. We get “new hearts,” sing a “new song,” and also get “A New Name.”
This “new name” is the name “Christian.” It’s important to understand this name for several reasons: First, it was given by God Himself. Is. 56:5b – “God says, ‘I will give them an everlasting name that will not be
cut off.’ Second, the use of the name was accurately prophesied hundreds of years before it occurred. Is. 62:2b – “You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.” Last but not least, it identifies us with Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior. Our scripture passage this morning shows us that this divinely promised and prophetically delivered name was first used for those who followed Jesus Christ.
Acts 11:19-30 – Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled
as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from
Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the
Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to
Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each
according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their
gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
This morning, I want us to look at what the name “Christian” means and also to look at these people for whom the term Christian was first used. It’s important that we see the characteristics that marked their lives and then evaluate how well those characteristics apply to use if we call ourselves “Christian”.
Not all names are appropriate. Maybe you’ve heard this classic newspaper classified ad: LOST DOG - $50 REWARD. Black and tan dog of poodle and German Shepherd descent. Flea-bitten. Left hind leg missing, bald in patches, blind in one eye, left ear bitten off in dog fight. Answers to the name of “Lucky”.