What does it mean to say, “I’m a Christian"? Who do you say it to? If someone else already knows you are a Christian, do you need to keep telling them? Isn’t that a kind of boasting?
You know if you are a Christian or not. You do not need to keep telling yourself. Someone who doesn’t know you might need to know where you are coming from as a Christian or, for that matter, as a Democrat or a Republican. Do you know if you are a Republican or a Democrat? You know if you’re registered to vote as one or the other, but do you know how closely aligned you are with any political ideology?
Does it matter more to say you're a conservative than it does to be conservative? In the prevailing atmosphere of political discord in America, it is considered important to take a political stand as a Liberal or a Conservative, but it is not important to be fully apprised of all aspects of the ideologies. A few key markers will suffice. Do you support unrestricted access to taxpayer-subsidized abortions at all stages of pregnancy? Do you support the abolition of America’s borders to allow unlimited numbers of people to enter from everywhere else? If you say yes to either of these questions, you may also say you are a Liberal, or a Progressive, or a Democrat, or all three. If you say no to either of these questions, you may also say you are a Republican or a Conservative.
But what if you do not hold fast to some other plank of the party platform? What if you are a baptized believer in Jesus, the Son of God, but you do not believe in the literal seven days of creation, or the virgin birth? What if your understanding of scripture leads to your conviction about the essential need to speak in tongues before you may honestly call yourself a Christian?
If you meet me in church on Sunday morning, I will tend to assume that you consider yourself to be a Christian, and I will not introduce myself to you specifically as a Christian because I will suppose that you make the same assumption about me based on where we meet.
Some situations like Sunday church services do not call for explicit declarations of Christianity. It is safely assumed that attendees are demonstrating Christian faith by the fact of their presence. It is odd to hear someone say “I’m a Christian” at church. Other situations, such as in your office at work or in your classroom at school, may not be conducive to a statement of faith. It might be unwelcome or even forbidden, depending on where you are.
In such a hostile environment, your Christianity may be most desperately needed, but your presentation must be delicate and sensitive to the prevailing attitudes. In that case, you must be Christian. Your actions must make your Christianity evident. Your speech must be different in subtle ways, seasoned with love and compassion, not vulgarity and wrath. Your words are the evidence of your faith, and they may be inviting and welcoming to people who are hungering and thirsting for goodness in their lives. A glad countenance and a joyful attitude will tend to be attractive to people you know, even more than your good work or athletic prowess, things that don’t matter as much when you leave the office or the arena.
Jesus never once said, "I'm a Christian," and yet He was sought out and surrounded by followers hungry and thirsty for his word. Let us fashion our own lives after his and practice his kind of faith life, for the sake of all those we meet.