Should You Call Yourself "Evangelical?"

Carrie Walker Louer April 13, 2015

Nicholas Kristof is an op-ed columnist for the NY Times. I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me think. He is not a Christian, but he gives a voice for the voiceless and does so with compassion and excellence.

He recently penned an article about the increasing unpopularity of being an evangelical Christian in our culture.

And I’ll admit that I don’t always enthusiastically identify with that label.

I follow Jesus without apology and believe unequivocally that we have good news to share with others. Yet the title “evangelical Christian” is laden with misconceptions and prejudice – it carries with it so much room for misunderstanding. (Heaven forbid I am ever misunderstood. Ahem...)

In the article, Kristof comes to the defense of evangelicals. In his travels all over the world, he found that where there was the greatest human suffering, there were also those who believed the Bible to be authoritatively true. Kristof crossed paths with men and women whom the God of the Bible has called to go with Jesus to some of the darkest places of the earth. He says this about followers of Christ:

“I have been truly awed by those I’ve seen in so many remote places, combating illiteracy and warlords, famine and disease, humbly struggling to do the Lord’s work as they see it, and it is offensive to see good people derided.”
(Read the full article.)

The world is increasingly hostile toward Christians. We freshly grieve the loss of brothers and sisters who have been maliciously targeted and shot for their faith in Garissa, Kenya. Coptic Christians in Egypt were beheaded simply because they bore the name of Jesus.

Our calling is to walk passionately in and tell boldly of the ways of God, ways that are good and right and pure. We do so not from the spirit of moralism, but rather from a passion for intimacy with Christ and a compelling desire for the common good.

Do you ever wonder how you would respond if terrorists showed up one morning while you are on your way to work? They start herding people, shouting hate. You watch as they mercilessly shoot those who identify with Christ and free those of other faiths. One of them has you backed into a corner, and in this split second you are challenged to identify with Christ or deny Him.

Frankly, I am afraid that I might cave.

But this is what I come back to: I’m not sure that how I answer that hypothetical question really matters.

The question is not so much if I am willing to die for Jesus, but rather, “Am I willing to die to self today, that I might LIVE for Him today?”

Now, more than ever, as followers of Jesus in a post-Christian culture, what we do needs to match what we say. Our faith is not merely intellectual propositions, but rather a life of surrender to One who invites us to go with Him wherever He asks us to go. Will I say, “Yes”?

  • Will I say “Yes” to his invitation to carve out time from my busy schedule to be focused with Him and let His Word wash over me?

  • Will I say ”Yes!” to mentoring a middle school girl or boy with trust issues?

  • “Yes” to looking for Jesus in the eyes of the man asking me for my extra change when I emerge from the subway?

  • “Yes” to talking to my lonely coworker; “Yes” to forgiving my friend or family member who has hurt me?

  • “Yes” to caring for my body and allowing myself to learn rest?

  • “Yes” to choosing to trust God’s provision and the Spirit’s fruit rather than living with fear and anxiety? “Yes” to giving of my resources to stop sex trafficking?

  • “Yes” to proclaiming and living the gospel to people in some of the darkest places of the earth (which might be in the cubicle next to mine or down the hall in my apartment building)?

  • Am I willing to say “Yes” to whatever God asks?

As you say “Yes!” across the board, could it be that non-believers like Kristof will say, “Hey, you might not believe like they do, but you can’t deny their lives of love and sacrifice.”

They may even ask, “Who is your Jesus?”

In the end, Christ is the One that displays His glory and the goodness of His redemptive ways. Through your lives He will draw people to Himself.

This I know to be true: I won’t say “Yes” perfectly. But, when I resist His invitation, He again invites me to repent and rest in His work of grace on the cross for me.

I know that I am not guaranteed that I will never be face to face with a person threatening my physical life if I identify myself as a Christ-follower. But more importantly, I want Him to cultivate in me a pattern of “Yes” day in and day out in this thing called “life.”

My “Yes” in the seemingly little today can help me be ready for whatever is asked of me tomorrow.

Originally posted on flourishingcity.com.

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