The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:26
When the Antioch community called the disciples of Jesus Christians, it was not meant to be a compliment.
This term Christian was derived from the Greek word for Messiah, which means Anointed One or The One Chosen by God. The word Christian is used only three times in the New Testament (see Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16 for the two other usages). It was always used by outsiders and it was NEVER a compliment. In the early first century, Christian was a term used to mock the followers of Jesus, like one would use the term Jesus Freak today.
The followers of Jesus talked about the Messiah so much that people labeled them “Messiah-ists” or Christians. They were so Christ saturated, people mocked them as little Christ-ones.
You can almost hear the conversation at the Antiochian water cooler as two men are looking out the window at a small gathering of Jesus followers and interested listeners. “Who are those people?” Claudius asks. “Oh, those are the people who are always talking about Christos, the Christ people.” Agathos would answer.
PCC, regardless of our name, Redwood City and the Peninsula will give this church a nickname that works best for them. It’s worth raising the question: would people label us the same way? Is it Jesus they hear us emphasizing? Or would people label us Good deed-ians, positive thinking-ians, judgemental-ists, religion-ians or Bible-ians?
We are Christians — people who love, trust, center our lives on, and follow Jesus Christ as Lord.
Though the name Christian may have been given as an insult, it was actually the highest compliment possible, because it points to the fact that the behavior of the followers reflected the Person whose life, death, and resurrection motivated all of their activities. They bragged about Jesus and rehearsed and lived out his teachings. In Christ they were new creatures, and it was evident to the city that Jesus was changing them. This is what I believe Barnabas saw in verse 23: When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts (Acts 11:23). He saw pagans transformed into little Christs. Only the grace of God could produce this. May God’s grace produce it again in our day.
This week, we wrap up our vision series discussing how we intend to move the Hope of Jesus off the hill at 3560 Farm Hill Boulevard and down into the city where so much expansion is taking place. In short, we are trusting God for more Christ followers on the peninsula as we place multiple church communities throughout our city to reach more people who live here. It’s a BIG ASK of God, just like the original 22 founders of PCC brought before the Lord in that Burlingame living room 65 years ago. I can’t wait to share it all with you. In the meantime, continue to read Acts 11:19-30 and I will see you on Sunday!
I love being your pastor!