Monday, February 28, 2011

When I Say 'I Am A Christian'

“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions… Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?... For we will all stand before the judgment seat… [and] be accountable to God.” (Romans 14:1, 10 & 12)

Last week as we concluded our series “Christianity and World Religions,” I shared my own thoughts about what this series has taught me about my own faith, and a few of the many reasons why I am a Christian, as opposed to some other religion (Read the complete sermon here).

Along these same lines, several years ago, a poem made its rounds on the internet called “When I Say “I Am A Christian’” that I believe captures a sense of some of these reasons. Although the poem was incorrectly attributed to Maya Angelou (it’s true author was Carol Wimmer), the original, unaltered words are worth sharing here as a reminder to all of what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our world today…

“When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not shouting ‘I’ve been saved!’” I’m whispering ‘I get lost! That’s why I chose this way.’

When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t speak with human pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble – needing God to be my guide

When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible but, God believes I’m worth it.

When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I still feel the sting of pain,
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name.

When I say... ‘I am a Christian,’ I do not wish to judge.
I have no authority – I only know I’m loved.”

[--Carol Wimmer first wrote this poem in 1988, and it is cited here from the book Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul. Read about the origins and history of this poem here ]

Whether or not you are a follower of Jesus Christ, my prayer is that these words will help you understand what we truly mean by “Christian” (as opposed to the arrogant judgmentalism that is often ‘sold’ to our popular culture as “Christianity”). For those of you who are already followers of Jesus, may these words also encourage and challenge you to remember our calling to be people of grace, humility and (above all) love as we share the good news of Jesus with the world! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

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