I Am “N”

letter N“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19, NASB

This is a hard post for me to write.

It’s not because I’m ashamed of what I am. I’m not.

It’s not because I fear retribution. I don’t.

It’s not because I think I will lose business or audience. I might, but I’m okay with that.

No, this is a hard post for me to write because I’m a nice person.

I know it’s tough for some of you to fathom, but really–I am!

I’ve spent my whole life being nice. I am nice. I don’t like confrontation, I’m not a fan of argument or conflict, and in general, I want people to like me. I have been known to go out of my way to win over people who otherwise wouldn’t give me a passing glance. I care a lot about what other people think–probably too much, given the business I’m in and what I’m about to say.

But here goes nothing.

I am “N.”

I am a Nazarene. A follower of Jesus of Nazareth. A Christian. And even worse, that dreaded creature called an Evangelical Christian.

And right now, I am weeping for my brothers and sisters in Iraq who are being put to the sword and undergoing atrocities that I can’t even fathom in my white-bread-minivan-Coach-purse-suburban world.

This isn’t a political post or an opinion about what we should/shouldn’t be doing to help those in danger or a diatribe against Islam or anything like that.

No, rather, this is a post about my own conviction.

I have squandered my freedom.

I have been silent about my faith not because I was afraid of a sword or a gun or some other violence against me or my family. No, I’ve been silent about my faith for the worst of reasons.

I’ve been silent–or at least quiet–about my faith because I want people to like me.

In that admission, I am reminded all too vividly of C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters:

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…

What road is more gradual than the one that wants acceptance, affection, approval? How many sins are committed against oneself–against one’s faith, against one’s convictions–in the name of being nice? Because the truth is that one can be diplomatic and kind and still disagree with someone.

Today I might, perhaps, censor myself in regards to my faith because I want people to like me, because I don’t want to rock any boats, because I fear offending those who don’t share my worldview.

But what about tomorrow?

What about the day when someone says, “wear this symbol, pay this fine, submit to this discipline or punishment, and then you can remain a Christian?”

Jesus was pretty clear about what awaited His followers. He said that they would face persecution because of His name. So the real question is, do I face the persecution now, or do I postpone it in the name of being nice?

And the conclusion I come to is that right now–at this moment, in this place–I still have freedom. I still have a voice. I can still call myself a Christian and share my faith and my worldview and not be starved or raped or beheaded for those convictions.

Perhaps I have even more than that. Perhaps I have a responsibility and obligation to speak, to share, to live openly as a Christian–and not just because Christ commanded it of me, but because the founding fathers expected that this country would be one in which lively, vigorous debate would be the norm.

I am not the sandwich-board wearing type, nor am I a preacher. It is not in my nature to be loud about anything, really. But it is easy to take that nature to the extreme and end up so generic and vapid that I am indistinguishable from everyone else around me.

I won’t let that happen just because I don’t want to give offense by saying that I am a Christian.

I won’t betray the memory of those who didn’t have a voice–who died for identifying themselves with the Nazarene who first died for them.

I am N.

And I am not ashamed.

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