As a young teenager, I took music lessons at a local music school. My teacher, a nice young man and very patient instructor, surprised me one day by venting against Jesus Freaks. Not being committed to my faith and questioning Christian teaching, I was afraid to respond and stayed silent. The label suggested that following the Lord made someone to be odd, believing in something to be obviously foolish, an outcast. I could not reconcile the label to the godly, faithful people of my congregation, who began each Sunday service singing the hymn, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty”.
The writer of Acts describes the birth of the name Christian: “And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” (Acts 11:24b-26 ESV). The citizens of Antioch were known to be name-callers and mockers; the ending of the word — “-ian” meant “the group or party of”. Being Christian meant being Jesus-ites, or Jesus People. The word was used to make fun of Christians, but they liked it so much, the word was adopted.
The Christian band The Newsboys, wrote these lyrics:
“What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it’s true?
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak —
There ain’t no disguising the truth.”
Christians are Jesus People, and are to be willing to be worthy of His Name. We ought not be known first as Baptist, Pentecostal, or Presbyterian, but as Christ-ian.
The good people of my congregation did the work of the church, and our ministers dedicated themselves to growing strong healthy Christians, just as Barnabas and Paul did. As we grew into spiritual maturity, and did His work, the body of believers grew in numbers.
The label Jesus Freak, or Jesus People, may always be mocked, but we choose instead to own in and be worthy of His Name.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, as we seek to follow You, and our church leaders endeavour to build us up in the faith, may we be proud to be known as Jesus People, and always be worthy of Your holy Name. Amen.