When I Say I’m A Christian

The statement “I’m a Christian” has come to mean some very different things to different people. I fall into the progressive, inclusive Christianity camp. The one that works for justice and serves the poor and welcomes the stranger. I’m with those who believe that God’s love and grace are gifted to us, and we live our lives in grateful response to that love, rather than with those who feel that we must behave and live in a certain way in order to curry God’s favor and earn God’s love.

The comedian Marc Maron does this bit about Christians where he says that there a lot of people more annoying than Christians. “Atheists, for instance” he says, are more annoying than Christians. “Vegans, too,” he says. And don’t get him started on atheist-vegans. Maron says that the thing about Christians is that, if they’re real Christians, at least they know they’re flawed.

By Maron’s definition, I am a real Christian. You can’t be as big of a disaster as I am and not know that you are flawed. And that’s a good thing for anyone, but especially a Christian to realize.

This poem by Carol Wimmer (not Maya Angelou, to whom it is often attributed and to whom I attributed it in the first draft of this post) captures my feelings about my faith far more eloquently than I ever could.

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”
I’m whispering “I was lost,
Now I’m found and forgiven.”
When I say… “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble
and need Christ 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 need His strength to carry on.
When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.
When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.
When I say… “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.
When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not holier than thou,
I’m just a simple sinner
Who received God’s good grace, somehow.”

What do you mean when you say that you’re a Christian?

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