I’ve never been fond of labels. The words conservative, liberal, even Christian are thrown around so much that the meaning morphs depending on the target or the thrower. Many Christians don’t know that their favorite label likely started as a derogatory slam. It literally means little or tiny Christ – imagery of Austin Power’s mini-me. While there is no definitive proof of this, the Greek word for Christian is only used three times in the New Testament, and each of those times lends itself to a derogatory connotation. it was actually centuries later that Christian was widely used among believers themselves.
Whether Christian started out as derogatory is not the point. The real issue is that the label Christian and even the word Christ have many meanings in our society, and few are accurate. The word Christ is not the last name of Jesus, but it has a real and very important meaning. Unfortunately, tradition hid that meaning from us. Before explaining that, let’s do a quick review of the definition of conservative:
adjective 1.holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
When I even talk about Christ not having an accurate modern meaning, some might get nervous or expect a lightning strike. It’s ingrained in our tradition, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but holding on to tradition for tradition’s sake is. Our current tradition is based on bad translation practice. You see, Christos in Greek has a very important meaning, but instead of translating that meaning to understandable English it has been transliterated – an English word was created to mimic the sound of the Greek word. But Christos was not a name or a transliteration in Greek, it was a translation of the meaning of the Hebrew word for Messiah – The anointed one. It’s meaning was robust in their culture. When a king or priest was to take office, oil would be ceremoniously poured over them. Anointing oil. The Messiah or the anointed one was the unique, one and only individual who would usher in a new kingdom and a new age. That’s why the leaders of Jesus’ day wanted to get rid of him. He was like “the one” in the matrix that was there to wake everyone up and change the world!
They were terrified of His radical ideas and angry at the way He destroyed their traditional comfort zones. They were even more afraid that people really believed He was the anointed one. Does the word Christ or Christian contain even a glimpse of that reaction today? Not so much.
Politics aside, a real Christian is not a conservative or a liberal. Neither label should fit very well. They wouldn’t fit Jesus. A true believer is a radical revolutionary who believes that their Savior and Master is the one and only Anointed One – and they are willing to dedicate their entire lives, being and resources to be an active part of His Kingdom.
If that’s who Christ is, I will follow. And if that’s what Christian means, then sign me up. But without action, any label means nothing. Radical revolutionaries are not defined by what they are called, but by the Kingdom they fight for and the actions they take. As I look around, and even in the mirror, I see a lot of conservatives, liberals, moderates even Christians, but radical, sold-out revolutionaries are few and far between.
Father, my earnest prayer is to be a radical, uncompromising follower of the One True Anointed One, and not just a label wearer…