I Want My Name Back by Fr. Joe Butler

Sometime ago I was driving down one of the beautiful streets in downtown St. Augustine. As I was driving, I looked to my right and saw a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus save me from your followers.” As I looked at this sticker, a wave of emotions flooded over me. I thought to myself:

“How can someone put something like that on their car?”

I got really upset with the gall of this person. As I drove on, there was another wave of emotions that flooded over me and questions began to arise in my mind. What has happened to this person that they would put a bumper sticker like that on their car? How did some “Christian” hurt them? Then I began to remember the times that other “Christians” treated me as I me as if I was not a Christian and did not even know that God existed.

I became very sad as I drove to the Post Office, because many times we so-called Christians misrepresent the name of Jesus. Several years ago a friend, Tom Pelton, preached a sermon and said that Christians have so misrepresented the name of Jesus, and not acted like Jesus, that he believed that Jesus was crying out to reclaim His name. He wants it back!

Have you ever misrepresented Jesus? Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone misrepresenting Jesus? If we were truly honest with ourselves we can all say that at some point in time we have misrepresented the name of Jesus.

1. We misrepresent the name of Jesus when we use Jesus’ name apart from His nature and character.

Let me explain. Several years ago a young man was murdered by other young men because he was gay. During the trial, a pastor and his church members were at the courthouse with huge signs saying “God hates fags.” As I saw this my blood boiled. God does not hate anyone. That is not His nature or character. But that is all that everyone saw on the evening news.

As you examine Exodus 34 we find God revealing Himself to Moses. In so doing, God reveals Himself first as loving, merciful, full of grace and then as a God of justice. So many times we as “Christians” get it backwards. We want to give out justice first and save the love, grace, and mercy for ourselves. St. Paul says that it is the goodness and mercy of God that leads us to repentance.

So, before we open our mouths and say this is what God is like we better check out His nature and character before we say anything. Let us truly become “Christ followers.”

2. We misrepresent the Name of Jesus when we move away from sinners.

The average ‘Christian’ after one year of being a Christian has no friends outside of the Christian environment. What a sad commentary. How do we reach people with the love of Christ if this is how we act? If we look at Jesus, he was a friend of sinners. It seems that he was more comfortable around sinners than around the “religious” people.

Today we have ‘Christian’ health clubs, stores, clothing, bowling alleys, and the list goes on and on. In fact, we could go our whole life without being around non-Christians if we really wanted to.

The problem with this is this is not who Jesus is or what he is like. If we are to be like Jesus we must get out among those who do not know him and be with them. It is not a time to judge them, but to share their life and get to know them. Instead of trying to get them to say ‘the Prayer’, why not ask them how their day was? Why not be their friend? If we would begin to do this and treat people with respect I believe that they would come to faith much quicker.

Lay down your Amway salesman evangelism and begin to be real with people. Get out among those that Jesus misses most. Let us truly become Christ-followers.

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