It may sound terrible, but I have concerns with calling myself a Christian. I understand that saying something like this may automatically put me in a category to either be pitied (he is giving up on “the truth”) or despised (he is against us) by the Christian world, but I beg you to give me a chance to explain.
Originally, the title of “Christian” was assigned to a group of people that were culture changing agents. They were actively changing a culture that made the sins of our current culture appear tame. They were making the changes without political activity, boycotts, well organized campaigns or church conferences and programs. They were simple people that had given up their lives to follow Jesus. This insanely foolish strategy was the key to their culture changing power. Additionally, the first Christians were known for their love, not for their opposition to the cultural ills that they no longer participated in.
When I read about their lives, in the pages of the Bible, I am inspired to be a Christian. I am desperate to be a change agent in my culture and to be empowered, by God, to effect practical change.
It is at this point that I am forced to examine our culture’s perception of the Christian. There are some positives, but the overarching perception is that the modern Christian facilitates little or no culture changing power despite political activity, boycotts, well organized campaigns, church conferences and programs. As a result of all of their striving, they are known for what they are against, instead of their love. They meet week in and week out, while their communities curl up and die. Suicides, self harm, drug use, depression and sin of every kind have free reign while the Christians are having a good church service, conference or rally. As a result, this group’s actions look more like a modern version of the Biblical Scribes and Pharisees. Click here for more on this subject.
I am fully aware that most Christians will read this and feel that they are an exception to my handling of modern Christians. How do I know this? I know because I spent many years actively being a modern Christian (see this post for more on that) and was blind to the lack of lasting impact that I was making. Somehow I was able to ignore the lack of power and content myself with glimpses of God in a “good” church service. I am not saying that I did not see good things happen, I am saying I did not see great things- culture changing things. I willingly sacrificed the great in favor of the good.
All of this leads me to a hesitation in referring to myself as a Christian. I am desperate to be an authentic Christ follower, but I am uncomfortable with the modern connotation of the term. I guess the only option is to surrender my life to Jesus (as the original Christians did) and experience the power to be a culture changing agent. Then we will see what the freshly changed culture calls me. It worked for the first followers, in Antioch (See Acts 11), I don’t see why it won’t work for me.