On Coming out as Christian.

I was always taught to keep religion quiet, but then something changed.

Photo by OWEN li on Unsplash

The Story of Peter denying Jesus goes something like this…

As the soldiers who arrested Jesus carted him away to be judged and condemned, a crowd marched behind. In the crowd was Jesus’ disciple, Peter. The crowd was hostile to Jesus and when they recognised Peter as one who followed Jesus, he denied it. He denied following Jesus a second time. When he denied following Jesus once more, a crow flew, just as Jesus had prophesied. Peter wept uncontrollably. Ultimately, upon Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus forgave Peter for denying him. He asked Peter to “tend to his flock” after He ascended. This Peter dutifully did.

We will never know for a fact exactly why Peter, in the crowd, denied Jesus. However, given the context we have a fairly good idea. Peter was surrounded by a hostile mob, baying for Jesus’ blood. I can imagine that Peter felt at least somewhat afraid.*

Being new to the faith, I struggled with coming out in the open as a Christian for a number of reasons. I suspect many others would feel the same. Sure, I may not have been surrounded by a raging mob like Peter was, but that certainly doesn’t mean we don’t have other pressures today.

Ultimately, upon Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus forgave Peter for denying him.

I’m a Progressive Christian who works on the front line in the emergency services. I’ve worked there for longer than I’ve had a relationship with Jesus.

Finding God last year when I was in the middle of a personal crisis transformed my life, my whole world. However, I didn’t talk about this with anybody. Why should I? I’m sometimes known for wearing my heart on my sleeve, but when it comes to private matters, I keep them…well… private.

One day, two of my teammates saw my Bible in my bag. They saw the gold edging along its side and like two cats in a cartoon, they leaned over their seats to have a look.

One asked, half jokingly, if it was a Bible. The other chuckled. I’m not entirely sure what they were expecting me to say. Part of me wanted to pretend it was something other than a Bible. I was tempted to deny the truth.

Suddenly, I was faced with a choice. Do I tell them it’s a Bible? Or do I tell them it’s not? There was no third option. I had to make a decision and I had to make that decision immediately.

I thought about the story of Peter and I told them it was indeed a Bible. I stated it as a simple fact. I don’t think they knew how to react. Nothing else was said about it and the conversation moved on.

Why was I so uncomfortable being open about my faith?

There were three reasons why.

The Label.

The label “Christian” is emotionally charged. 

Personally, I don’t think there’s any place for bigotry, sexism, homophobia or racism within Christianity. However, there are some Christian communities who openly disagree with this: they embrace bigotry, sexism, homophobia or racism. They can get a disproportionate amount of media attention. 

I don’t want to be associated with them. One of my biggest fears is that by openly admitting I am a Christian, others might assume that I condone those antisocial and un-Christian ideas. I believe in equal rights and treating one another decently as human beings.

The Connotations.

I’ve discovered a number of negative connotations associated with the word “Christian”, unfair though this is. Judgemental. Holier-than-thou. Disruptive. I did not want anybody to feel that way about me, especially within my working environment.

The Challenge.

One of the biggest fears I’ve always had is not living up to other people’s expectations of me. When I first found Jesus, this was even more so. How could I risk declaring my faith? What if I stumbled? What would people then think of me?

I think the word “Christian“ is a heavy word. It means to follow Christ. This is a BIG deal. It’s a really hard thing to do. Isn’t it?

I thought that if people knew I was a Christian, I would have to watch how I behaved. That if I slipped up, I would be accused of hypocrisy. People would talk.

“Look at what he just did! And he calls himself a Christian!”

After the “Bible in the bag“ incident, nothing else was really said and life moved on. Phew! The moment had passed.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any place for bigotry, sexism, homophobia or racism within Christianity. However, there are some Christian communities who openly disagree with this: they embrace bigotry, sexism, homophobia or racism. They can get a disproportionate amount of media attention.

Most corporations and public sector organisations have staff societies ranging from sports to religion and much more besides. I joined my organisation’s Christian Association. Not much has taken place during lockdown. However, I did receive a little pin-type badge with their logo emblazoned around a cross.

There comes a moment in most people’s lives when they find themselves at a crossroads, facing destiny. A time and place where they’ve gone as far as they can go without committing to something and making a decision: choosing which path to follow. There is no escaping that choice. Once made, there is no turning back. Your life, or its course, will be changed forever.

I was completely taken by surprise by that pin badge. I remember staring at it, dumbfounded. I had to make a choice. To wear it or not to wear it? That was the question. I was stood at those crossroads. This was a significant moment.

Jesus came to my rescue when I most needed him. Now through a twist of fate, the rug of indecision had been pulled from beneath my feet.

Either I pinned the badge to my suit and proudly wore it every day, or I left it in my locker to gather dust. I was either in this thing or I wasn’t. It was as simple as that.

I pinned the badge to my jacket. I walked into my new world.

Walking into the office for the first time with the cross pinned to my jacket, I felt the weight of the world upon me. A colleague did ask me about it and I explained what it was. As previously, the conversation didn’t go much further. I slowly got used to wearing it.

I then had a job interview for an internal promotion. I told myself, I will take off the badge for the interview. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. I don’t want eyebrows raised. I don’t want to take a risk.

But come the day of the interview, I couldn’t bring myself to remove the badge. I wore it. I wore it with pride.

Finding God last year when I was in the middle of a personal crisis transformed my life, my whole world. However, I didn’t talk about this with anybody. Why should I?

I was taught to keep quiet about religion when I was growing up. But something changed when I was forced to make a decision.

I realised I had nothing to fear from labels, connotations or the challenge of being like Christ. I’m not perfect and that’s okay. I will wear my religion on my sleeve and I will try my best. Sure, I’ll slip up sometimes, but that’s okay. Jesus teaches us to love and forgive and that’s what I will be trying to do.

After all, when Peter slipped up, didn’t Jesus forgive him? More importantly, didn’t Peter get up and try again? 

I will not fear those negative preconceptions others may have of Christians being applied to me. I realised, being a Christian isn’t about what I wear, what I say or where I am on Sunday morning (most of the time, I’m asleep!). Being a Christian is about what I do. Ultimately, it is our actions that people will proscribe to our beliefs, not the words and behaviour of others. Jesus says so himself.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 
 (Matthew 5:16, NKJV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
 (John 13:34–35, NKJV)

I don’t think wearing the badge affected the outcome of the interview. To be honest, I don’t think they noticed.

But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about me. You see, by publicly stating my Christianity, I must act to the standard Jesus set…or at least try my best.

The cross is deeply symbolic. It is where death turned to life. It is a new me: I hope a better me.

I’m not there yet. But coming out as a Christian has helped me aim to the mark and hold me to the mark.

Published by Mike

Hi I'm Mike! I'm a Progressive Christian and I work on the front line in the Emergency Services in London. I live with my wonderful partner in a quiet little town just outside of the city, 🇬🇧. I'm a writer over on Medium.com and I blog about my writing journey, books/the literary world, the faith, the mind, the heart and the soul as well as all the other day-to-day adventures I pick up along the way!

3 thoughts on “On Coming out as Christian.

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