Christian comedian Tim Hawkins plays a song called “I’m a Christian”. Set to the tune of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”, Tim Hawkins’ version gives a testimony of being changed for the better, and having been saved from what he was before.
Maybe it’s because of the message in this parody, or just because Bon Jovi’s original song was popular when I was younger, but I wanted to listen to Tim Hawkins the other day in my car. Since my car takes voice commands, I pressed the button on the steering wheel, and said to the sound system, “Play Track: I’m a Christian”. (Yes, I may be weird for talking to my car, but I think that it’s slightly safer than reaching over and hitting buttons on the console!)
Then, I was a little convicted: I realized that, driving alone in my car, I could say those words to a computer program. However, I knew that once I got to work, saying “I’m a Christian” out loud would be a lot more challenging for me.
Like Peter remembering Jesus’ prophecy after Peter denied being His follower, I can be convicted of Jesus words (from another portion of His ministry) recorded in the Gospel of Mark:
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:38 NASB
I’m not proud of that, but when I realize my own challenge of speaking up for Jesus around others, I at least have the opportunity to analyze the root cause of the problem, and consider how to fix it.
Here are some observations in which I can find encouragement when I struggle with this:
- My faith was never meant to be kept to myself. In the passage that we sometimes call the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:16-20), Jesus made it clear that making disciples (which, I think, is impossible without sharing the good news) was an expectation of His followers.
- I have nothing to fear. What in this world do I have to worry about, when God has done more for me than any person, government, or cause could accomplish? If God were to have only placed us here, that might have been enough. However, He loved us so much that He chose to remain with us, seek out a relationship with us, and continue to intervene in our lives. We can read – and even memorize – verses like Romans 8:15, 2 Timothy 1:7, and Isaiah 41:10 when we need reminders of this.
- I’m not alone. Also in the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:20), Jesus promised to be with His followers. Sometimes, though, when we feel like we are on our own, we look for other people (of the non-Divine kind). Here, the story of Elijah, who was encouraged by the presence of others who did not worship a popular false god (1 Kings 19:9-18), is a good reminder that God often places Christians together, to accomplish much more than they could alone (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
- I’m on the winning side. God has already seen the end of time (a benefit of existing outside of it, and having created it in the first place). See passages like 1 John 5:1-12, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, and Romans 8:26-39 to learn more about what God has shared with us about that victory (which is secured even as we walk in this fallen world).
Don’t get me wrong: I have no intention of just walking through the hallways of my employer randomly shouting out, “I’m a Christian”. However, I do intend to continue praying on a regular basis that God will give me opportunities to be crystal clear about my faith – not as some self-serving goal, but to share the good news with others and to glorify God. And, I pray that God will give me both wisdom and courage to take those opportunities, and to say exactly what He wants me to, prompted by the Holy Spirit.
My goal is to be able to say the following, like Paul:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 NASB