We wear a name
When I was in school, I met an atheist who was planning to work in the Arab world. He said that he was undecided about whether or not to reveal his beliefs. “I think it would be better to say I’m a Christian because even if they don’t like Christians, at least they would think I believe in God.” He didn’t mind branding himself with the Christian label; it meant nothing to him.
Before I moved to North Africa, people warned me that many North Africans have a misconception of Christianity. Is it any wonder? Long ago, “Christianity” was a name used to fight wars. In recent years, many presume to understand Christianity from a blend of European Catholicism, Hollywood and tourists in scant clothing.
This is a big generalization, I realize; however, I run up against this big generalization frequently. Like the time my friend told me what Christians believe because she had taken a religions class at the local university. Both she and others have treated me as if I don’t belong in the Christian box. In their opinion, some of the things I do or don’t do are too respectable to be Christian.
What have we done?
In Romans, Paul comes down pretty hard on God’s people for the same offense: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (2:24). They weren’t practicing what they were preaching. As God’s chosen people, they weren’t living up to the name they carried.
As a Christian, I bear the name of Christ. Instead of providing an excuse for others to blaspheme him, I acknowledge that I need his power to live out this privilege.
Tricia Kennell grew up in central Illinois. Currently, she is studying Arabic in North Africa as the first step in working with North African immigrants in Spain. She blogs at My Thoughts from Afar, where this post first appeared.
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