Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 11:26 and John 15:18-25.
As Jesus’ followers grew into a movement, they began to be called “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22). The name probably began as a reference to Christ’s statement, “I am the way” (John 14:6). Most members of the Way had Jewish roots. When Antioch saw an infusion from other ethnic groups, however, no one knew what to call the multicultural body. Old ethnic designations—Jews, Greeks, Romans, Gentiles—no longer fit. The Antiochians seized on the one factor that united the diverse community—Christ. Actually, the term Christian, or Christ-follower, began as a sarcastic put-down (Acts 11:26). But the name stuck and became a badge of honor.
Sadly, the term Christian has in recent times again become treated as an insult in popular culture… But it would be naive to assume that Christians are not also at least partly responsible for damaging their own public image. The early Christians also lived in an age [hostile to Jesus followers], yet by the second century A.D. they had earned a reputation for being relatable, relevant, and “worthy of admiration.”
Jesus Himself warns us that since we are not of the world, the world will hate us just as it hated Him (John 15:18–25). However, this does not give us permission to hate the world back—Jesus certainly doesn’t (3:16). What we are supposed to do, however, is win people over to Christ. How might we live in such a way as to get the world’s attention for all the right reasons? How might we, through our everyday actions, reflect the glory of the kingdom of God?