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Proud to be a Christian?

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“I’m a Christian, and I’m proud of it.”   
You may have been told this by someone, or you may have said this yourself.  Or you may have seen it on a bumper sticker, tee shirt, poster, etc.  In certain Christian subcultures, it’s a pretty common way of proclaiming one’s identification with the Christian faith.  As Jesus says, “Out of the heart a man speaks,” (Luke 6:45), so the things we say have underlying heart motives, regardless of whether it is premeditated.  In many cases, two people can say the same sentence and intend two opposite meanings, hence the topic of this post.

First, “I’m a Christian, and I’m proud of it” can have as its root self-righteousness that prays like the Pharisee in Luke 18, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”  To say that one is proud amounts to little more than self-love.  This person looks at his or her values, family, lifestyle, etc. and compares it with the messed up lives of others and thinks, “Phew, I’m glad I’m not like so-and-so.”  “Being a Christian” becomes a free ticket to the top of an imaginary ladder of comparative righteousness.  The end goal is being better than others, not in drawing near to God.  To this person, “sin” means that they are not excelling past others; therefore, if believing in Jesus gains them the status they want, then they will not only believe in Him, but be proud of that belief.  However, the Scriptures remind Christians that they too were carelessly following the path of destruction, yet God showed up and rescued them (Titus 3:3-7).

Second, “I’m a Christian, and I’m proud of it” can have as its root an unashamedness in who God is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ.  In Scripture, this is often referred to as “boasting in God.”  Boasting in God means that a person is humbled, admitting the extent of their sin and turning from it to plead only Christ as the grounds of their salvation.  Paul tells the Corinthians to reflect on the fact that God did not love them because they were impressive.  They could not have cared less about pleasing God, yet God chose to save them freely, by His grace, drawing them to Himself (1 Cor 1:26-30).  Therefore, all the attention (all the pride) goes to the Triune God for planning, accomplishing, and applying redemption:  “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:30).  This is why Paul says that he is “not ashamed of the gospel” and that he “will not be at all ashamed”–because he is being emptied of himself and filled with Christ and knows that it is this message that saves (Rom 1:16; Phil 1:20).  In the same way, he also boasts in his weakness, because through it God’s power is magnified (2 Cor 12:9).

Thus, the same sentence, “I’m a Christian, and I’m proud of it,” can mean two different things.  It can be born out of self-righteousness, using the Christian label as a holy whitewash; or, it can be born out of full reliance upon God and wholehearted praise to Him for freely showing mercy to undeserving sinners.

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Written by keywoodblog

March 25, 2012 at 2:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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