I was having dinner with a friend of mine and his lovely finance last night and the topic turned to identifying as Christian. J's fiance is uncomfortable with the label at the moment, partially because of the sordid history of Christianity, partially because she's no longer what her Southern Baptist mother considers a Christian and partially because she's still mulling over where she stands theologically.
I was once in her shoes, somewhat. I haven't always been comfortable calling myself a Christian, but I am now. Two things changed. The first is that I became more comfortable with using Christian language to describe my experience. The second is that my experience with the Living Christ became less antagonistic.
I am still uncomfortable with some of the things that have been done in the name of Christianity. I don't like the way some people who identify as Christian behave now, or have over the history of Christendom. But for me, identifying as a Christian isn't about identifying with a group of other people, it's about identifying myself with Christ. I am a Christian because I have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus.
But that begs the question of why bother identifying as anything at all. I mean, if it's just between me and Jesus, what's the point? The point is evangelism. (Did I just write that?) The point is letting people know that Jesus is the reason that I do my best to live with integrity, obedience and intentionality.
St. Francis is credited with saying that one should preach without ceasing and use words when necessary. I believe that one's life is the greatest ministry one can have, but that without identifying that life as a Christian life, you can lose the message of Divine Love and Forgiveness.
This is not to say that Christianity is the only way to be faithful to the Divine. This is to say that the Love of God through Christ is a miraculous, beautiful thing and need not be hidden. There may well be many paths up the mountain, but the Christian path I'm on has a great view.
I am a Christian and I am not ashamed or conflicted about it. A little weirded out by the realization that I seem to be promoting evangelism, but perfectly comfortable with being a Christian. Christ is at the center of my life and letting people know seems right to me.