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labels and titles

At a softball game yesterday, one of the dad’s asked me: “What do people call you? Pastor or minister?” My first response was, I’ve been called much worse than that. I told him of receiving a piece of junk mail once that was addressed to “The Most Holy Reverend Ken Hensley.” How did they know, I said to my secretary. I should have kept the letter for proof.

When I meet people for the first time and they ask what to call me, I just say “Ken.” Part of it may be due to my background in a denomination that disliked titles. Part of it is my belief in the “priesthood of believers,” the biblical idea that all Christians are servants of God. We just serve in different capacities.

The title I cherish the most, however, is a rather simple one. It is to be known as a “Christian.” As a Christ-follower, my aim and ambition is to be like Jesus. The term “Christian” originally came about as a term of derision, or insult. It was applied to Christ-followers in a negative way. Over time, his followers adopted the word as their own.

It’s one of the reasons I dislike denominational labels — they tend to distract the focus away from Jesus. Our first impulse when asked to identify ourselves should not be to say Baptist or Methodist but as Christian. One of the my favorite books I read while still in high school. The title? “I Just Want to be a Christian.”

People disconnected from God and Jesus aren’t all that interested in our intramural squabbles and denominational points of differentiation. They will be attracted to Jesus.

May we wear the title “Christian” in a way that honors our Christ.