Are you a Christian?
If you're anything like me, you love being posed that question by someone not a Christian. It's an open invitation to share the wonders and glory of God with someone obviously curious...or sometimes aggrevated. When asked that question and the door opens for me to go into a full court press, I get the same pregame jitters I used to get back in the day before playing a high school football game. My coach called it E I...which according to him, stood for Emotional Intensity. He deducted that tidbit of wisdom when his 3 year old daughter would yell 'E I daddy, E I!' every time they passed the Golden Arches. 'She's got emotional intensity about the Mac Donald's like most kids do,' he would explain, 'the same emotional intensity you should be feeling about the privilege to play this game of football!'
Even though sarcasm was practically a way of life for me in those days, I didn't have the nerve or the guts to point out his daughter's association with the Golden Arches, in all likelihood, stemmed from the popular song that most all 3 year old's know as 'Old McDonald' and the repetitive verse of 'E I E I O.' He was a very scary man and wouldn't have taken kindly to me pointing that out...I'm sure.
Back to the question at hand.
If there's excitement in the opportunity to answer the question 'Are you a Christian?' from a nonbeliever, there's also a certain degree of gastrologic activity when I find out the question is directed by another Christian...stomach rumbles often in the form of anxiety. Why? Because most certainly, the follow up question by another Christian seems to always be 'What church or denomination do you belong?'
And there's where the problems always begin...
It would be so nice to leave it at 'the Jesus denomination,' but we all know that wouldn't fly, and the questions will become more persistent...and judgemental. Why is that such an important question to other Christians? Well...to Protestant Christians. Catholics are only subject to a single follow up question. Once they answer 'Roman Catholic,' the issue is dead...and that's not some Protestant pun I'm slinging.
Quick side bar...I actually spray spit my beverage once while with some friends and the question was answered 'Catholic' by a newcomer to our group only to be countered with 'That's not Christian!' Yes...apparently there are actual college students not familiar with the movement called the Reformation and a gentleman named Martin Luther...as surprising as that may be. But I'll revisit that at a later time.
Labels. We have to label everything...even God. If you are a Christian, have you ever stopped to think what our denominational divide looks like to the nonbelievers? I mean, if we can't all be in unison on something as important as the Creator of all things and His plan for our eternal home, nonbelievers must wonder how inspired can we really be? It's an age old, 16th century problem that's as likely to be resolved as the problem of wiener vendors packaging wieners in quantities of 10 and hot dog bun vendors packaging buns in quantities of 8...because none of the parties involved are going to compromise.
I'm a Christian...a follower of Jesus Christ. I should feel emotionally intense about this symbol and what it means to all of us. I know and believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father. That's how it is...His game plan. As I strive each day to walk closer with Him and follow His teachings from over 2000 years ago, is it really an important detail that I go to church at the First Church of the Sword of Joshua Independent Full Gospel Pentecostal Assembly?
Just kidding mom...I'm still a Baptist...take a deep breath...