Identified With Christ
I think we're supposed to be that, aren't we? I mean, I've heard that ever since I've been a believer who was interested in doing something about it.
Most of the time I've heard that, it's been in connection with getting wet in a baptismal (or, for the seriously speer-uh-chal, a river). That's always caused me to wonder if we're only required to act Christian when someone who was there to see the baptism, is present. Somehow that doesn't resonate with me. [HT: Wade Burleson]
Anyway, I thought I'd share a little bit about me, and perhaps something that drives some of my admittedly atypical (for an old retired fossil like moi') behaviors.
First, if you've spent any time around me, you might notice I usually wear a collar pin .. well, a lapel pin stuck in my collar or elsewhere on my shirt. I think that idiosyncrasy bears explaining.
Maybe 20 years ago I was on a mission trip to Jamaica. One of the teens in my group was a young lady named Christy, and she approached me the first day there and stuck a pin on the pocket of my sport shirt. I think that's it, in the picture, posing on one of my closetful of pink hats. If not, it looks just like it, and I just found this one among some old mission pictures. When I got back home from the trip, I laid the pin on the nightstand with my wallet, change, pens, .357 magnum (not really) and other stuff I usually carry in my pockets.
The next morning, as I was dressing for work, I finished putting on my sport coat (yes, I did actually wear them, once upon a time) and I noticed the pin. God then spoke to me, something on the order of:
"You going to be ashamed of me, today?"
I decided then, that I wouldn't be. So I put the pin on my lapel. Everybody at the office knew I was a believer, so why not? Yeah, right, except I woke up, later in the day, to the fact that my BIGGEST client was having an open house in their veddy veddy high class new headquarters that evening, and I was expected to attend.
I mean, these guys were spending $100K in insurance premiums at the time, and I'd never do anything to upset anyone there, right? But, I couldn't not wear it that evening, so I went on to the Open House anyway, with the pin right there.
Surprise surprise ... I got positive reactions from everyone who noticed it, that evening. They ranged from one fellow who said "I admire a man who's not ashamed of his faith..." to greeting from fellow believers. And there were some business biggies in the crowd that evening. But nobody ever showed, then or later, ANY sort of negative reaction.
I learned a lot that evening, and when I told Peg about it later, she went out an bought me 3 or 4 nice gold pins of a more permanent nature. And that started a thing that goes on to this day.
One interesting sidelight: a few days later when I was wearing one of the gold ones, a clerk in a store complimented it. For some reason, I said "If I give it to you, will you wear it?" She said yes, so I took it off and handed it to her. I also said, when she said she didn't want to take my pin, really, I said "I have a rule .. when someone says they like my pin, I always give it to them if they'll wear it." So she took it, and put it on.
I still do that, today. We ain't rich or flashy, but I've given pins away in Russia, Latvia, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and in a number of states. I cannot tell you how blessed I've been over that.
In fact .. I just thought of this ... I gave a pin to the pastor of our Hispanic Mission, about 3 years ago. A couple weeks ago, on the "bye-bye" evening joint service before they moved out, the pastor came up and showed me the pin and said he still wore it. Incidentally, they left our church as they were getting short on room ... being over 200 in attendance now, and too big to meet in the choir room ... and joined with the Church of the Highlands. That's an independent pentecostal church in our community, and they even put Pastor Alex on staff and are going to expand the ministry to other areas they want to reach. I hope the SBC doesn't find out we've spawned that sort of thing or we'll be in big trouble, won't we?
Anyway, about 15 years ago I bought a couple of "Jesus" license plates, and put them on the front of our cars. I want folks to know I'm a believer, for a couple reasons. One is that those chance meetings at restaurant, parking lots, etc are some really sweet times, when a fellow believer sees that plate and says something. Then there's also the roundabout effect it has on me when I'm in traffic and someone needs to pull out in front of me. Or does, without looking. I knows that they know I'm a believer. So I have to act like it, too.
It's not enough that God sees, of course. Heavens, I don't want people to see me acting like a heathen, too!
Yeah right. But it does have its effect. Trust me.
Pastors, look around your parking lot sometime. See what folks are proud enough of that they buy a plate and stick it on their cars (tee hee).
In the late 1970's, I was a Reserve Police Officer here in Pelham. I usually rode a shift with regular officers on Friday and/or Saturday nights. On the way home, I'd usually stop in the supermarket and pick up whatever Peg had said she needed, and I'll never forget the feeling of walking in, in uniform, and have people notice.
I was talking to my pastor, Bill Hay, about that and told him the story. I said it'd be nice of Christians were to wear a uniform, so that when folks saw us, they'd know we were believers. Bill's response was "Well?............."