Pastor Harley Kopitske always pronounces every word derived from the name of Christ with the long “i” sound: we’re not Chrisstians, we are CHRIST-ians. It’s not Chrisstianity, it’s CHRIST-ianity. And it’s not Merry Chrissmas; it’s Merry CHRIST-mas!
Pastor Kopitske was my missions prof at the Seminary, and he’s now retired back to North Wisconsin. He’s still going strong well into his 80’s, and yes, he still rides a Harley!
His point was that people should always be hearing the name of Christ from us, whether it’s the proper pronunciation of another word or not. They should also always be seeing Christ in us, in all that we do and in what we refrain from doing. That’s what makes us CHRIST-ians.
So what does a true CHRIST-ian look like?
For starters, a CHRIST-ian is filled to overflowing with love: love for God, love for family, love for other CHRIST-ians, even love for our enemies. To a CHRIST-ian, love is foremost a verb. It’s when our faith springs into action, seeking to bless and benefit everyone else before yourself.
And that’s the next part about being a CHRIST-ian: sacrifice. The mission of a CHRIST-ian is the same as that of Christ Himself: looking to provide for the needs and interests of everyone else first. My preferences are set aside, especially for the sake of a weaker brother or sister.
That means that the third crucial trait of a CHRIST-ian is humility. Jesus-style humility empties me of my self, which includes my judgments of others, my treatment of everyone around me and my attitude toward those close to me and those at a distance. The CHRIST-ian recognizes that he owns nothing, controls nothing, and has earned nothing.
Being a CHRIST-ian isn’t always easy, because the self never goes down without a fight. We want our way, when we want it, at whoever’s expense. The self is supposed to drown in the daily repentance that comes with baptismal grace, but whenever he pops his head up for a breath of air, I have to push him back under.
So let’s see and hear a lot of Christ out of us CHRIST-ians, and not just in December.