Friday, March 2, 2012

Do you call yourself a Christian?

So I call myself a Christian. And the point is? To what purpose do I make the claim other than to suggest that I am better or more favored than others?
Imagine walking through life and informing others: "I am very beautiful (or handsome, if you prefer). I am extraordinarily wise and kind. I should also point out that I am quite humble. Just take it from me."
Something would be wrong with this. These qualities are to be lived out and demonstrated, and then noticed and called out by others. They are not to be "claimed."
And so it was among the first Christians, who did not call themselves Christians, but were called "Christians" by other observers. Acts 11:26. So imagine if it was considered very bad form if I were to announce to you that "I am a Christian" (a term that I very seldom use because so much damage has been done to it by genocidaires, bombers, murderers, rapists, hatemongers, and Koran burners, as well as the garden-variety hypocrites such as myself). If I were to declare to you that "I am a Christian," you might reasonably reply: "Really? I will take note of your claim, and I shall delight in observing your love, mercy, compassion, charity, commitment to social justice, etc."
Yes, I am quite mindful of the cautions and qualifiers to be noted here that cannot be well developed in this short blogpost intended to make a different (oft neglected) point. Indeed, Scripture directs us to profess our faith and proclaim Jesus, and we certainly do not earn and deserve salvation by "good works."
And/But Jesus stated that "All people will know you are my disciples by your love," [John 13:35, 1 John 4:20, and others], not by mere conclusionary proclamations. Scripture also states that "Faith without works is dead" [James 2:14-26] and that Christ followers bear visible fruit of the Spirit that resides within. Galatians 5.

How wonderful to imagine that it would be unnecessary to inform another that "I am a Christian," but rather that abundant evidence would cause others to identify and call me such. (This is far from a current reality, but rather a prayer and a goal toward which to strive.) 
Or to put it in radically opposite terms: If I were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?