CHRISTIANITY REBIRTHED: A NEU WORD WITH A NEU IMAGE.

When we submit ourselves to a language outside of the idiom of the common man, we are subconsciously yet aggressively asserting not only our distance from the 'other' but also creating an unnecessary barrier within humanity. We are agreeing with the assumption that we are better than them. The evolution of terminology within Christianity has become incredibly bourgeois due to the apparent belief-system approach to the religion of Christianity. Let me explain. When we use words such as 'saved', 'grace', 'mercy', 'end times', 'atonement', 'born again', and 'baptised' (to name only a few) in a closed context such as Christianity whether we intend to or not we are sending a message of superiority and creating a class system within the framework of our daily conversations with people. When we use a system of language as a way to describe one's experience with the Divine and then use that system of language in such a way that it creates outsiders and insiders than we betray the very nature of what the language itself was meant to do. The word Christian itself is a word we use to define a group of people who believe that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't just a local small town preacher, but that He was indeed the Christ-Messiah spoken about for centuries to come. I think it’s important to point out that Jesus didn't start the movement of Christianity, he did inspire it though. Christian was a term used by those who despised this new movement of Jesusfollowers; it was a word to slander the character of those who chose to follow after the person of Jesus. It would be better modernised as a cuss word. It was offensive. The Greek meaning behind the word Christianos (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Christian) is where we get the word for Christian. 'Ianos' was used to denote being a slave of the person that one was following. So, in this instance it would mean that people were slaves of Christ. In the ancient world slavery wasn't as taboo as it is seen today, it was more accepted. In fact there was a hierarchy of slaves in this culture. Some were contracted slaves who were either sold into slavery to pay a debt or to fulfil an obligation amongst families. There were also another set of slaves called 'hired servants' who were more like butlers and house chefs. It was a more acceptable label. When the Biblical author Paul uses it in some of his letters, he is attempting to redeem the word. Trying to redeem the word today would be the equivalent to using the term terrorist as one who follows Christ. So, maybe we need a new word with a new image. When someone hears the word 'McDonalds', the golden arches come into full view. When someone hears the name Mother Teresa, they think of an older woman who was filled with intense compassion for the world. They don't think of a man in his thirties. Why? Words create images. Images create realities. Realities seem to create universally accepted truths. Words contain meaning and have an origin. Everything starts somewhere. When most hear the word slavery now most might not think of a butler. Some might even get the image of an African being chained up to a ship, or someone working in a field of cotton or even someone from Asia working on the American Railroad. What I hope is that we can all agree that slavery in this day and age isn't positive. The word is filled with injustice and unfairness. The word doesn't have good connotations. It is charged with destructive overtones. If we use the word Christian and it means one who is a slave, then whether we mean to or not we help perpetuate the subconscious idea that slavery is acceptable. That injustice is okay.

And maybe even worse, we help paint the picture that Jesus supports such an idea. This is the same idea when someone chooses to use the title ‘Christian’. When people hear the word Christian some think of a fundamentalist who will do anything to sale Jesus to someone. Others, like my editor, think of Christians as "boring" and disengaged with reality. If we desire to be relevant than maybe we need to break free from the Jesus speaks on the issue of freedom in the book of John, "If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. " (John 8:36). Jesus' message was one of complete and utter liberation. In another place he tells some of his followers that he no longer calls them slaves but friends. This is directly counter-cultural to the role of the disciple and Rabbi. The disciple was meant to follow and learn from the Rabbi. As you can see though, Jesus' friends felt comfortable enough to ask Jesus questions because He treated them differently than other Rabbi's. He treated them as equals. As people who had something to add to the conversation. Jesus came to liberate. The word Christian means a slave to Christ. This term seems to contradict the very heartbeat of Jesus. Maybe we need a new word altogether. One that is culturally relevant and speaks into our current society. Maybe we could be people who are intentional 'Jesus enthusiasts'. Or we could be a band of 'Jesus pursuers' or 'followers'. This is to share an alternative meaning that still has the impact and implication of being people who have encountered the message of Christ and have been and are being continually transformed by what He has said. Maybe another alternative is 'Jesus-influencers'. People who are committed to influencing the world with the deep reality of compassion that Jesus espoused himself to. If we choose to stay the same out of comfort than as a faith we age prematurely and become useless to the very fabric of transformation that we speak of so ardently. The moment we come to realize that there are things in Christianity that might need to be reinvented, is the same moment we confess we don't have all together. At that moment, the message begins changing us. We become born again once again. This is one of the many points of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, to be in a constant state of rebirth. This is what this article is about, Christianity rebirthed.

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