A short reading and prayers for today
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
Acts 11:25-26 NLT
Barnabas’ famous gift of encouragement was not only expressed in words. He also took action. He could see that the church in Antioch desperately needed a good leader and he was convinced that he knew the right man. Antioch, in Syria, was a busy commercial centre and it had a very mixed population. There were many Jews in the city and an increasing number of people from a non-Jewish background who were following Christ.
It was crucial that a good appointment was made and Barnabas was sure that Saul had exactly the right qualifications. So he set off to search for him in his home town of Tarsus in Southern Turkey, as it’s known today.
It was now 14 years since Saul’s conversion and so he had had a long period in which to grow as a follower of Christ, and to develop his teaching ministry. Having tracked down Saul, Barnabas took him back to Antioch. There they spent a year working alongside one another in the church which was to be the springboard for the mission to the Gentile, that is non-Jewish, world.
It was in cosmopolitan Antioch that the followers of Christ were first called Christians. This was probably used originally as a term of contempt, but the Christians were proud to be associated with their Lord and Master and were happy to bear his name. It is so significant that the title “Christian” is totally focused on a person.
We are members of the church, but it would be horribly misleading if we were known as churchites or churchians. Christian faith is rooted in a personal relationship with the founder, Jesus Christ himself.
The church is a large and complex organisation made up of human beings who regularly get a great deal wrong. The church is often deeply disappointing and embarrassing, and we often wince at its many failures and shortcomings. But Jesus never lets us down and we can be proud to bear his name.
What does the word Christian mean to you?
Dear Father, thank you for your son Jesus Christ and for the privilege of being his followers. Amen
Redeeming Sustainer, visit your people and pour out your strength and courage upon us, that we may hurry to make you welcome not only in our concern for others, but by serving them generously and faithfully in your name. Amen.