My father is a huge John Wayne fan. He had all of his western classics in his movie collection and it seems that we were not able allowed to live in that house without appreciating the masterpiece that was a John Wayne western. Most of my life I have spent here in the Midwest and never really got to see where Wayne’s movies were set. The Western was dusty, wild, untamed, and harsh. I grew up in the Midwest, where Field of Dreams seems more of a reality. On my way down to Texas I had to cross the Red River (and again on my way home). It was later when I entered Texas Sunday night and all I saw was vast darkness, much like what I see here in Iowa at midnight. The following morning, on my way home I got to see the Red River. The same Red River which sparked a John Wayne film. Although the movie was in black and white, seeing the river gave me an instant understanding of the world that the Western was set in. I understood why it was called the Red Rvier. I understood why the West was harsh land, unfit for growing crops. Everything clicked. In the hours that I sat in this land, with the 100 degree heat bearing down upon me, It was vast, it was empty, and except for the highway much of it seemed untouched by man. Seeing it with my own eyes gave me understanding of what it was all about. But, what does this have to do with the bible? Spirituality? Religion?
In Acts 11:26 we find the first place that the disciples of Christ were called Christians. But, what does that mean? To be honest if you don’t really know what a Christian looks like, behaves, etc that term means nothing. It is like the Red River. Sure, you might say it is called the Red River because it is read. Just like you can say they are called Christians because they follow Christ, but until you really see it with your own eyes, you are not really beholding all that it means to be a Christian. To make matters worse, we live in a world that has saturated the meaning of Christian. If you were to poll most Americans they would identify themselves as Christian. Why? Because they believe in God and believe that Jesus is the Savior. They then go on living like no one will be held accountable to God. Others, in the name of God do horrible things like the support of racism, oppression, war, etc. And still others, while calling themselves Christians, going to church every Sunday lead secret lives that would bring shame and dishonor to themselves, to the church and to God if (and when) discovered. The reality is, most of the world has never seen a Christian. To them it is just a name. It really means nothing more than a fake person who thinks they are better than others.
So what? Why should I care? Sometimes we sing the song “The World’s Bible.” While a simple song it has some of the most powerful messages in all the songs we sing. It implores us to remember that the world is watching. For them it is like seeing the Red River for the first time. They have heard about what it looked like. They had “visions” of what it should be. But seeing it for the first time opens up their eyes to what it I and what it was like to live in that world. When they see Christians for the first time what is the impression that is left behind?
I want to commend those that helped this past week. It was not only overwhelming to me to see this gift, but to those that received it, they were equally overwhelmed (it took two different trucks to carry the load to Houston). But, more than that was the opportunity I had in driving this load across the country. It is not every day you see a minivan loaded to capacity (and then some) pulling into a gas station. As questions were asked, I was able to explain to them that a small church in Iowa couldn’t sit idly by and ignore the needs of those in Houston. They were at first shocked, then greatly encouraged that Christians sought to do some good in this world.
It is good that we do these types of things, but let us be certain that our light continues to shine. Let us not dishonor the name of God by letting Christian mean something else to those in our communities. Let us continue to do good. Let us continue to live holy lives. Let us continue to love God, love each other, and love our neighbors.
Grinnell church of Christ
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What is in a Name?
Volume 8 Issue 34