I’m a born-again Christian, but I don’t like to introduce myself as one. It’s not that I’m ashamed of Christ. No, it’s just that some people who aren’t Christians assume we’re all ultra-conservative, judgmental, Bible-thumping morons, and having been all those things at one time or another, I know how unattractive those traits can be to people who don’t share my faith (or even some who do). Worse yet, the term has lost a lot of meaning here in America where even a lot of Christians don’t seem to really understand the whole “born again” experience. It could be that we’ve reduced the Gospel to a basic transaction, as awe-inspiring as buying a product with a credit card.
In essence, we proclaim, “Here, believe these facts about Jesus. Next, pray this prayer. Now, you have eternal life!” The triteness with which we approach God may help explain why we divorce about as often as other folks, give very little of our money away, and don’t really live much differently from our neighbors who don’t even bother going to church.
Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it is coming from or where it is going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). He was saying, of course, that there is a mysterious element about “getting saved” that is beyond our human conceptions and control, but after hanging around with Christians for the better part of three decades, I can honestly say that I really don’t know where some of them are coming from or where they are going, either. Too many seem just like non-Christians, which I find downright weird, and those who are actually different are at times just plain peculiar. Some who have called themselves Christians have been the most wonderful people I have ever known, but others still puzzle me. I’ve even seen people who seemed zealous for God completely leave the faith, and that has always made me sad, but I’m still here, loving Jesus, trying to live like Him, and too often failing miserably.
After getting to know a lot of Christians, I’ve come to the conclusion that the authentic ones are, above all else, self-admitted failures. Some have been what many might consider to be losers, and some have been talented, successful, rich, and good-looking, but all of them would admit to you right now that they couldn’t make it without Christ.