The disciples were first called Christens at Antioch. – Acts 11:26
In America, a lot of people call themselves “Christian.” In the Bible, people who did not care a thing about following Christ, called those who did follow Him “Christians.” Read Acts 11:26 once more. It was not a term of endearment. It was a derogatory term meant to convey that they thought Jesus was dead, but not there are these “little Christs,” these “Christians” popping up everywhere and they act an awful lot like He did. They don’t mind giving up everything they own. They love like He did. They pray like He did. They forgive like He did. They are willing to be crucified . . . just like He was.
I am just a few weeks from ending what I call my “wilderness season.” I was so hurt by and so disillusioned with what I thought was supposed to be “church,” that I just couldn’t go back into one for a while. In a weird way, this pandemic kind of made it mandatory for me to follow through with this wilderness season. I have learned so much about who I am, who I want to be, and the process that God uses to make me more like Him.
I remember one time that just a few of us were meeting outside. It was so cold and rainy. I thought about how we would be much more comfortable studying the Word inside. For some reason though, it just felt good to be uncomfortable on the outside of my body, and for God’s Word to be warming me up on the inside. How else would I have ever experienced that?
There have been two moments in the wilderness that I was hopeless that nobody was going to come. I said to myself that I was okay with it. I resolved that even if it was just Tonya and me, we would read the Word, discuss it, pray, and that would be just fine with me. Even though I was resolved, I was kind of inwardly testing God without saying it out loud, “God, how could You possibly lead someone else to join us? Nobody really knows about it.” Once, I wanted to join my daughter when she said, “nobody else is coming.” Both of those times and every single other time someone came. How else would I have seen Him work like that?
Jesus Himself was not immune to scrutiny. Pharisees constantly accused Him of breaking the third commandment because He would heal someone on the Sabbath. They would complain about the most ridiculous stuff. Ever since I chose to follow Christ, there has not been a single non-believer I can remember who has ever scrutinized me. Not once have they cared about the details of what I believe about the Bible and God. Yet, there have been quite a few Christians who have completely discredited me due to me engaging in some behavior they don’t, or not engaging in some behavior that they do. When I entered the wilderness season, it was a little too easy to say, “they are just a bunch of religious snakes.” But now, I can see times where I wasn’t any different. I can now honestly pray for them, or at least say “forgive them.” I want the best for them. I want them to know Christ fully. I want the entire Christian community to come together and truly be unified and be one. This is how this lost and dying world will come to believe in Christ. This is the recipe for revival. This is how our world will be transformed. How else would I have learned that?
Lord, I look for so much comfort in this world. I look for everyone to like me. I sometimes can’t stand my enemies. I wonder why You allow things. Help me to truly realize that Romans 8:28 is true in all my circumstances. You are working it all for my good. Why shouldn’t I be wronged? You were. Why shouldn’t I be rejected? You were. Help me to learn to be thankful for these things. How else could I become more like You? I love You, Lord. Lead me and guide me wherever You are going . . . for that is where I want to be. Amen