Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5), and a man full of God’s grace and power who did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. (Acts 6:8) He is considered the first martyr of the New Testament.
But Stephen was not a Christian.
How can I say this?
This thought just came to me as I was reading further in Acts 11. It struck me that nobody was considered a Christian at the time of Stephen's death. It was some time later when some Greeks in Antioch came to believe and turned to the Lord. The label 'Christian' was first used in reference to these believers in Antioch. Stephen was following the way of Jesus, but he wouldn't have even heard of any Christians, let alone identified himself by this name.
There are some believers today that are rejecting or at least trying to avoid the label Christian. Some don't like all the religious and historical baggage that goes along with it. I understand in many cultures the term Christian invokes more negative feelings than simply talking about Jesus. There are times I try to avoid labels like Christian as well. When the word Christian gets used, people may lump me together with all the other Christians they know - this could be good, and it could be bad, but it likely isn't very accurate. There's a good chance I am not the same as any other Christian. I'd much rather people get to know me and hopefully see the relationship I have with my Lord.
I also find it interesting that the disciples were "first called Christians" at Antioch. Christians did not come up with this title for themselves.
I guess we can't stop people from calling us what they want.
It would seem we don't need to call ourselves Christians to be disciples of Jesus.
Disclaimer: About This Blog
THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.