She was a cute little girl-maybe 6 or 7 years old. As I would walk by her home on my daily walk, I would wave to her.
But as I passed by her house this time, I saw her little lips move. She was speaking to me. Removing my headphones and turning off my gospel selections from Spotify, I tried to figure out what she was trying to say. Her mother-who was standing a few feet away- helped me out; she said “My daughter is asking you ‘ Are you the man that walks a lot?’”
I walk between 5-8 miles a day-on weekends, I try to push that up to 10 miles. On Sabbaths, I try to walk twice a day-5 plus miles each time . It is a part of my weekly goal of 100, 000 steps,, or, nearly 50 miles a week.
I usually walk in the evening and since Covid 19 has closed our office and forced me to work from home, my neighbors are accustomed to seeing me cover my daily route of just under 6 miles each evening. I have gotten to know some of them-the blond young lady on the next street over-who walks as often and seemingly as far as I do. The older black couple (I suppose that is how some of my younger neighbors refer to Mrs.Edmond and me; hopefully, they won’t refer to us as that “elderly couple”-as a department store employee referred to Mrs. Edmond and me one evening at the conclusion of our shopping)at the end of our street, with the stunning lawn.
Then there is young couple on the street behind me who I discovered were Seventh-day Adventists about a month or so ago. They saw me wearing my Oakwood University and Southern Adventist University hoodies( I am a loyal Oakwood alum. Southern gave me their hoodie-which is heavier and thus, the one I wear on cold days -but I bought Oakwood’s-which I wear all the other times) and came up to me in one of my walks. I discovered that not only were they Adventists but the husband’s father was once the Senior Pastor of the Madison Campus church (the largest church in the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference) and his sister graduated from Madison Academy with my daughter.
Then-directly behind my house is “G” (he said that is what people call him-I forgot his real name)-an extremely gracious and friendly man from India. He has a very nice wife and 2 friendly twins boys, who are 4 years old. I call them “G, Mrs. G and the little G’s”. I can be a mile away but if the “G’s” see me, they nearly wave their arms off in greeting.
As the old Mr. Rogers song (everyone who has children of a certain age remember “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”-and if you are like me, and you were involved in babysitting your grandchildren-Friday’s, when our office is closed, is my day for babysitting duties-you know that “ Mr. Rogers Neighborhood “ has been replaced by “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”)says “These are the people in my neighborhood “.
I know some of them and like the little girl, some of them know me as “The man who walks a lot.”
I suppose that is walking is not a terrible thing to be known for. I certainly would rather be known by my neighbors as “the man who walks a lot” than, say-“the man who drinks a lot” or “the man who fights with his wife a lot”.
But honestly, I would rather be known in my neighborhood as “the man who talks about Jesus a lot”. That’s how the name” Christians” came into being. There was a group of what we would call new believers in a place called Antioch. The Bible says in Acts 11:26 that “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”.
Ellen White says in Acts of the Apostles, p.157 that “the name (Christians)was given them because Christ was the main theme of their preaching, their teaching and their conversation”. In other words, the members of the church in Antioch became known as the people “who talked about Jesus a lot”.
I am not even sure that the people who first called the members of the church in Antioch “Christians”meant that name as a compliment. I suspect that they really meant it sort of mockingly, as in”You all are always talking about this Jesus Christ-that’s all we hear from you-Christ living on this earth, Christ dying, Christ resurrected, Christ returning-Christ this and Christ that-yall are Christians-all we hear from you is Christ!”
I suspect that to be a called a “Christian”back then was intended to be an insult-but today, it is the greatest compliment that can be given to someone. To be known as someone who “talks about Jesus a lot” and backs up that talk about Christ by living a life that reflects Christ.
How are you and I known in our neighborhoods and on our jobs and among our non-Adventist friends and relatives?
My grandmother passed away almost exactly 54 years ago. If ever there was a Christian, it was my grandmother. I always said about my grandmother that if there was only one person in the world that was going to be saved, it would be my grandmother.
My grandmother never learned how to drive a car; she got around by catching the city bus. If you were a stranger who sat by grandmother on the bus, you were pretty much guaranteed to hear about 2 things from my grandmother: Her grandchildren-and her God. If my grandmother were alive today and she lived in my neighborhood, I suspect that she would be known as “the lady who talks about God a lot”.
The church in Antioch grew because it’s members talked about Christ and what He had done in their lives a lot. In fact, so committed were the people in the early New Testament Church to talking about Christ a lot that Paul said in Colossians 1:23 that the gospel had been preached “to every creature which is under heaven”.
There is some debate over what Paul meant when he said that the gospel had been preached to “every creature which is under heaven”. That sounds as if he is saying that the Gospel Commission-which is to take the gospel everywhere-had already been fulfilled-and that has not happened yet.
In fact, it probably had not happened then either as there were parts of the world that had not been discovered at that time as yet.
But in the “Elder Edmond Version”(which is not exactly up there with the King James Version and the New International Version and all the rest) Paul is saying “We have talked about Christ a lot-in fact, we have talked about Christ and His love and what He has done and is doing in our lives so much that we cannot think of anyone else that we haven’t talked to about Him”. I am interpreting that text to mean that Paul and his fellow Christians talked about Jesus to every corner of the then-known world.
And that is pretty amazing when you consider that Paul and his fellow apostles and church members had none of the modern inventions that we have today to spread the gospel. In a few days, I am going to get on a plane and preach to a group of people in an outdoor setting. I’ll get to my destination in about an hour and a half.
When Paul wanted to do that, he would have to get a ship that would sail for days and weeks and hope that the winds would blow in the right direction so that he could arrive and preach the gospel.
As I said, Paul and the Christians of his day had virtually nothing with which to preach the gospel-except, a love for, a knowledge of and a relationship with the Christ Who had changed their lives. And their determination to talk a lot about that Christ and His life-even at the risk of their lives-changed the world.
And the same thing can happen today. And it can begin with you and it can begin with you. The people of God can once again become known as Christians-the people who talk about Jesus a lot.