For two and a half months, my “uniforms” (black clerical shirts with accompanying white, plastic, wrap-around, detachable collars) hung in a closet at home. From July 15 through September 30, I wore all manner of shirts, but nothing that would outwardly identify me as a clergy-type. And a funny thing happened. The longer I walked around incognito, the more I wondered how much I had come to depend on the uniform to identify me — not as a clergy person, but as a Christian.
What does it mean to be “overtly” Christian? Is it the accumulation of approved Christian trinkets — bumper stickers, wall plaques, art work or a plethora of crosses? Is it the repetition of recognized Christian phrases and buzzwords? Is it the ability to quote Scripture (citing “chapter and verse”) fluently and frequently?
At this point in the discussion, a good many of my mainline Christian friends will offer their favorite saint’s wisdom on this matter. Thank goodness (at least for Episcopalians!), Francis of Assisi is purported to have said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”! Thanks be to God, indeed! We’re off the hook! We don’t have to actually say any words that are uncomfortable to us, or make anyone uncomfortable around us! Now that all we have to do is “behave/serve/minister like Jesus”, and we needn’t ever mention his name!
Really? That’s it? I’m not so sure.
What about you, dear reader?