My facebook news feed informs me that several of my acquaintances have just joined the group “I’m proud to be a Christian.” I didn’t see who, and I’m sure they joined with good intentions. They probably thought, “A group that supports Christianity! Of course I’ll join.” Maybe the creators of the group had in mind the passages about being unashamed of Christ and His gospel, or maybe they wanted to communicate that they’re not embarrassed about having a different lifestyle than their peers. The choice of words, though, is sloppy to the point of heresy. We need to be careful about the ways we talk about Christianity, about salvation in particular. God won’t give His glory to another. Being proud to be a Christian is an oxymoron for two reasons: God condemns pride, and salvation isn’t our doing.
Over and over, Scripture calls pride disobedience to God. Why should we sin about being Christian? Why should I brag about Another’s work? Don’t misunderstand. I am glad that I am a Christian. But how can a convicted prisoner boast of his unearned pardon? How can a rebel claim the credit for his forgiveness, or a baby be praised for her adoption? Did Lazarus strut around telling people how proud he was that Christ resurrected him? Was the prodigal son arrogant that his dad welcomed him back? How could I be proud that Christ redeemed my sin-twisted soul, paid the debt I couldn’t?
Salvation wasn’t my idea. I didn’t initiate Christ’s sacrifice; if He hadn’t ransomed me, I doubt I would even have asked for it. It is by grace that I am saved, through faith, and that not of myself, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that I can’t boast. God demonstrates His own love for me in this: while I was yet ungodly, Christ died for me. That doesn’t prove how lovable I am; it proves how loving God is. My very need for salvation should be humbling.
One of my friends’ children was recently unkind to a friend. The offender was caught and reprimanded by his mother and went back outside, but a minute later, he burst back through the door, elated. “Mom, he forgives me!” That humble excitement over forgiveness was a picture to me of how I ought to talk about Christ’s forgiveness of me. It’s the gift I want to talk about; a source of joy, but not pride.