Believing or Belonging? – Acts 11:26

“The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26, HCSB)The term “Christian” occurs only three times in the New Testament.

Besides this verse, in Acts 26:28 King Herod Agrippa asked if the Apostle Paul was trying to persuade him to become a Christian and in 1 Peter 4:16 the Apostle Peter referred to suffering for being a Christian.

The word for Christian in the Greek is Christianos and comes from christos, meaning “anointed one” with a modifier borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.

So, a Christian is someone who belongs to Christ; who is a slave of Christ.

While the label of “Christian” may have at first been applied disparagingly to the followers of Jesus, Peter indicated that this derogatory identification for disciples of Christ should be one they wear as a badge of honor: “But if anyone suffers as a ‘Christian,’ he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name” (1 Peter 4:16, HCSB).

Unfortunately, the term that once described us as the personal possessions of Christ now means adherents to a religion.

Instead of being about how you live, “Christian” now seems to be a term that describes how you believe!

Unlike the first century Christians in the first part of this verse who were disciples that Paul and Barnabas spent a year with teaching them the Christ-way-of-life, now being a Christian is simply a box we check on a form indicating our religious preference or a declaration we make to become members of a church.

Being a Christian now seems to be more about “believing in” rather than “belonging to.”
Being a Christian now seems to be something we believe, not something we are!

But belonging to Christ demands more from us than simply believing that Jesus died for my sins so that I can go to heaven when I die!

If you belong to someone, then you listen to what your master tells you to do and then you do it!

When you belong to Christ, something happens to you! He doesn’t just change your perspective; His new reality takes over your life! The Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in you.

He delivers you from the world.
He empowers you to live according to a new way of life, His Way.
He enables you to hear God’s commands and obey them.

When you belong to Christ, you listen to what He is telling you to do and then you do it!  

“You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:9-10, HCSB )

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