America is celebrating her 239th birthday this weekend, and, like most nations, it didn’t have a smooth birth. We had to fight for our freedom against the greatest western army of the time. This English were well-equipped and well-trained. The colonists were not. To the British, the colonists were ignoble and common and a British surgeon named Schuckburg (allegedly) wrote Yankee Doodle Dandy to mock the colonists. A doodle was a simpleton, and a dandy was a foppish person. The line “feather in his cap and called it macaroni” referred to “macaroni” or fancy Italian dress. It suggested that the colonists had no sense of fashion. It’s like this guy looked into the future and saw the website “People of Walmart”! Moving on…
However, the colonists took the sneering lyrics and made them a badge of honor. When the British surrendered at Yorktown at the end of the war, the United States army played “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” It’s even the Connecticut state song. Booyah, British!
Rewinding 2,039-ish years ago, in Acts, Cyprus and Cyrene preached the gospel in Antioch and many people believed. After that, Barnabas brought Saul to Antioch to meet with the church and teach them. It was in Antioch that Christians were first called Christians “little Christs” and was meant to be derisive term.
“And when [Barnabas] had found [Paul], he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26 (ESV)
And then the church said to themselves, “Little Christs? Perfect! Let’s go with that.”
Before that, they were called “People of the Way” or part of the “Nazarene sect.”
Last year around this time, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) conqured Mosul, Iraq. In their goal to create a Caliphate, an Islamic government, they swept through Mosul with a bullhorn and announced that any Christians left in Mosul would have four options: convert to Islam, pay a tax, leave the city, or die. On the homes of Christians, they spray-painted the Arabic letter “noon” or N which stood for “Nasara” or “Nazarene.” Wait, that seems familiar.
The Christians were being targeted for their identity in Christ. If ISIS meant it to be a humiliation, they made a big misstep. Soon, the “noon” was popping up as profile pictures on social media as Christians showed their support for their persecuted brothers and sisters.
When you follow a God who humbled himself to come down to earth and died a humiliating death on the cross, we accept the sneering and mockery like a badge of honor. Dare we say…like a feather in our caps.