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The believers of Jesus who had spread out after Stephen was killed were spreading the Jesus message all around… but they’d mostly just been telling other Jews like themselves. But this wasn’t the case in a place called Antioch. Some men from Cyprus and Africa were telling the not-Jews too. They were proclaiming the Good News of Jesus, and many people believed and turned to the Lord God.
When the Church in Jerusalem heard this was happening, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he got there and saw the grace of God, he was thrilled. (That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? The Grace of God is something you can actually see if you’re looking). Barnabas encouraged them, “Stay true to Jesus with devoted hearts.”
Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a lot of people were coming to know Jesus. Eventually Barnabas went and got Saul from Tarsus and brought him back to Antioch to join him. For a whole year Barnabas and Saul were with the Church in Antioch. They taught, and taught, and taught.
Around that time some Heaven-seers came to visit Antioch, and one of them, named Agabus, could See that a severe famine was about to happen. So the disciples all helped out by giving some money to Barnabas and Saul to take to God’s Family living in the land with the famine.
Did you know that it was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were called Christians for the very first time?
But what does the word Christian even mean? It sounds like “Christ” doesn’t it? But remember that “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. “Christ” comes from the Greek word cristos and it means “Anointed.” It has sort of the same meaning as the word mashiach or “Messiah” in the Hebrew language. Jesus was “the Christ,” “the Anointed One of God,” “the Messiah,” or the “Shining Rescuer.” So to be called “Christ-ians” (or “Christians”) was like being called the “little, shining, anointed ones” — little shining torches of the Holy Spirit’s oil that give off Light.
That’s what it means to be a Christian and to be a follower of Jesus. Nice name to be called, huh?
Nowadays people sometimes think they are a “christian” if they just happened to grow up in a certain country or are a part of a particular type of religion. But what do you think? Should that be the thing that decides whether someone is called a “Christ-ian” or not…? Could just believing a certain set of rules or ideas ever make you into a “little shining one of God”? Nooooo.
A “Christ-ian,” a Christian, is someone with that supernatural, Shining Anointing of God on their lives. People with Shining Life inside that is flowing out to the world around them. Yeah! Let’s go with that true definition.