The primary reason outsiders feel hostile toward Christians…is not because of any specific theological perspective. What they react negatively to is our “swagger,” how we go about things and the sense of self-importance we project.
Jesus tells us that we are no longer servants but now we are friends. We know what the master is doing; we know everything that Jesus has heard from the Father. It is no wonder that we tend to have a little ‘swagger’ or ‘self-importance.’ Why wouldn’t we? We are God’s children; Jesus calls us friend; we are important. It is no wonder that Christians appear, to those outside the church, to have big heads and inflated opinions of their own importance.
I know that when I read the quote above from, UnChristian, a book published by the Barna Group, I began to think of all the ways that a couple of bad apples spoil the whole bushel. You know those few knuckle heads that make Christianity look bad for the rest of us. But then I began to wonder if I had ever swaggered when I should have acted with humility. I wonder if at times I have acted with self-importance rather than selflessness.
Before Jesus calls us friends he reminds us that, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Not only does Jesus challenge us to this radical style of friendship, Jesus demonstrates this type of friendship. It is a friendship that is humble and selfless, and it is a friendship that can be difficult but that is more rewarding than a friendship that swaggers with self-importance. Being a follower of Christ is very important to me, and following Jesus will never cause me to forsake being a friend to a neighbor.
When we allow our broken nature to taint the love of God then we portray Christianity as something that is attainable through human works. Our gospel text reminds us that we are known by God and friends with God because of Jesus; not because of what we have done. What we must do now is love one another and represent the love of Christ to the world with selfless humility.
Sometimes I think that I was called to ministry because it would have been impossible for me to represent God in another work place. When I go out into the public sphere lots of times I am wearing a t-shirt or a “polo” with a church logo or a bible verse on it. God made it easy for me to remember that I am representing God at all times. It seems to me that without a constant reminder (like clothing), it could be difficult to remember that we represent God in all that we do and everywhere we go. I am not attempting to profess that I do this perfectly or even well, I am admitting that we all need to represent Christ better.
If folks at work, school, places we hang out, etc know that we claim to follow Christ then we must bear fruit that will last. Fruit that lasts needs to be good fruit. This is how I like to think about it, when you eat a bad piece of fruit it tastes bad; likewise, when you treat someone in a way that will bear bad fruit, if you profess to follow Christ, it will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Because no one wants to eat nasty fruit repent of that act, learn from it and grow. Do not beat yourself up over a mistake. Remember our God is a redeeming God who can work through our mistakes. Rather than feeling guilty and sorry for yourself and how you “messed up,” prepare yourself for the next time you have the choice to bear good fruit or bad fruit and pray that God gives you the ability to love. I commend you for professing your faith through good fruit and walking the journey of faith with selfless humility. When you get home at night take a moment and swagger in front of the mirror and thank God for giving you the strength, courage and ability to be a light in the world because no one wants to see a self-important swagger.
 David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. UnChristian: What a New Generation really thinks about Christianity…And Why it Matters. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007) 26.
 The Barna Group “is a visionary research and resource company located in Ventura, California. The firm is widely considered to be the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture.” In 2007 the Barna group published a book entitled UnChristian. In an attempt to make sense of the research compiled by the Barna Group over a ten year period David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons sought to find out what the 20-30 something generation thinks about Christianity. I have attempted not to read this book, but feel that in order to move forward in ministry I need to at least check it out. http://barna.org/about