I am proud to be a Christian, and I do refer to myself as such. Often, however, I find myself foregoing this label and instead going into a bit of detail, mentioning I have a relationship with Jesus and a veneration for God and I try to honor Him in all that I do (so if I'm gonna blog, let it glorify, too, right?). :] Why do I feel the need to explain?
My father, who became a believer in his early thirties, has commented before that he's not exactly thrilled with the term 'Christian'. His displeasure comes not from what it literally means, lest you should think him ashamed of his beliefs; my dad, like many others, is dissatisfied with the connotations that have developed alongside the term.
It's so common now to hear from someone denying religion - the ever popular "Oh, I'm not religious - I'm spiritual" or, among my Christian counterparts, the creed "It's not a religion; it's a relationship." And I'm not saying either of these things are void, just pointing out that, technically, these people are not denying religion (which, put simply, is a belief in something accompanied by according actions - which means, yes, even atheists have a religion, in a way) but rather organized religion and any culturally-associated stigmas.
Quick disclaimer: I'm not saying "No stereotype about the Christian tradition has any truth to it!" No. I'm saying there are a lot of preconceived notions, unfounded assumptions floating around - a sort of collection of general misunderstandings with what it means to be a Christian.
Think about this: the term 'Christian' developed outside of the faith. It served as a sort of mockery of those who began to consider Jesus to be the Messiah. The term is used late and sparingly in the Bible, and among one of these few instances, Paul notes that "[I]f you suffer for being [called] a Christian, do not feel ashamed, but glorify God with that name" (1 Peter 4:16). I have to speculate about Paul's train of thought here.
Humor me. A lot of my more intelligent friends throughout the years have been referred to as 'nerds'. Kind of a back-handed compliment, right? Someone called a name like that could either wallow in the fact that they're being told they're basically equated to some high pantsed, taped glasses-wearing misfit, or they could take pride in the fact that they've gained a reputation as a smart kid. I think this was the sort of reasoning behind Paul's encouragement - sort of a,hey, regardless of what the nay-sayers call us, we know why they're doing it. And, in my view: christianos - 'little Christs' - those who immitate this controversial, raconteur who they think is the Messiah, the 'annointed one,' right? Isn't immitation the sincerest form of flattery? And to flatter the Christ - Jesus - well, that means to flatter God and to flatter God... Well, you're good. :P I think Paul, and whoever else, saw this as a kind of "take it and run with it" situation.
As far as I'm concerned, being a believer still means the same thing it meant when Biblical authors used the term. What does it mean to be a Christian now? And I am well aware that when I pose the question, it opens up a whole can of Christian worms.
It's been interesting to me, what with my tumultuous past as far as my faith goes (to be discussed at a later date) to see what people think of Christians and even what Christians think of Christians. I want to explore what keeps people so afraid of Christians, or what makes Christians scared to call themselves such. Spirituality is great - but spirituality is a sort of buzzword. And faddish words, well - it's not that they don't have a real meaning... It's that their true meaning often becomes lost, drowned in a sea as confused as the person who uses it.
So in this series of posts I will attempt to make reason out of rhyme - if not for others, then for myself. I will explore my faith and the Christian tradition in general. Discuss; dispell; disclose. Or at least this is what I aim to do.