Has anyone ever called you a Christian, as if the word rolling off their tongue was a bad word? Has anyone ever given you “the look” when you tell them that you’re a Christian (you know, the one where their eyes are puzzled, their eyebrow is raised, and their lips are pressed together and the ends are curved)? Has the Christian label ever put a barrier in your ministry or walk with God? You’re not alone.
I was talking with a girl from my youth group, and she was sharing the struggle of living a godly life in a school plagued with worldly lifestyles. She’s convinced she’s the only Christian in that school. I told her she’s probably not the only Christian, and that she can be the one to spark change and encourage closet Christians to be bold. “But you don’t understand,” she was frustrated, “being a Christian is a bad label to have! People shut you down when they find out you’re a Christian!” She opened a can of worms that definitely needed to be opened.
The Christian label? It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It shouldn’t be a bad thing. People have given Christianity a bad name. They’ve done and said many things in the name of Christianity that were completely wrong. The Bible is constantly taken out of context. God is blamed for the bad and forgotten in the good, so when youth girl shares that she’s a Christian, people understandably cringe, but that shouldn’t stop her. That shouldn’t stop us. We shouldn’t be afraid to say we’re Christians. It should be like telling someone, “I like pizza.” And we can all think, Well duh, we shouldn’t be afraid of admitting our Christianity, but I’m sure youth girl and I are not the only ones who have hesitated at least once while proclaiming Christianity.
But I’m here to tell you that the Christian label is a good label to have, as long as the lifestyle backs it up. I’m even feeling convicted while writing this. I’m sitting in Starbucks, hungry and irritated because I am hungry, with a sour look on my face. My face probably looks like the face I described in the beginning of this post. If someone looks at my face, then looks down at my Bible, are they going to want what this book is telling me? Probably not.
It is up to us to be testaments of the real God from the Bible. It is up to us to share the truth about Jesus. Of course we’re going to have bad days. We’re going to experience negative emotions. We are going to make mistakes, and we are going to sin. So if someone points that out and asks, “You’re a Christian aren’t you? That wasn’t very Christian-like of you,” you forgive if/when you need to forgive, and also take this wonderful opportunity to share God’s grace and the love of Christ. “Yes, I made a mistake, but still God loves me,” (Romans 5:8).
Not everyone is going to accept us even when we are being loving and genuine Christians. Not everyone is going to be open to our views (we do have an unpopular belief system and Jesus said Himself we’d be hated for His name’s sake), but we just keep being like Jesus.
Change comes when the label becomes the lifestyle; for others and ourselves.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV