Throughout Dixie, I’m a Tennessean. Folks in Georgia and Alabama know what that means. Outside the South, I’m a Southerner. That means something to Yankees. Around the world, I’m American. That means something to everyone I meet off native soil.
Iraq, Kyoto, Gitmo and our border caused me to think people in other countries don’t like America or Americans. Still, I’m an American, a Southerner and a Tennessean, so I traveled with some friends to Norway to see a friend.
Expecting bitterness toward my fellow Yanks and me, I found people who genuinely liked Americans. Anticipating indifference and even hostility, I discovered people shy about, but fond of, American gregariousness. Thinking they would detest everything American, I heard our music in every club and restaurant. I saw our television on DVD racks. I glimpsed our movies advertised everywhere. And I saw our businesses on all corners.
I felt like a member of a club. So much of what the people loved came from my country; and that made me proud. I bear a family resemblance to this cultural juggernaut. I’m American. That word, that identity, feels like power in conversation: it changes every dynamic. Because of this, I possessed a little swagger in personal interactions.
But the American identity doesn’t revolve solely around the word “America.” I carried the identity within me. It fueled my confident posture toward others.
I’d long thought that Jesus’ name immediately re-draws the contours of any conversation. Bringing him up alters the course of discussion at once, just as being American does. If mentioning him results in a positive response, so much the better. If not, my surly nature prepares for a fight.
I am proud of Jesus, but do I say his name with boldness as I do for America? His name feels like power on my tongue, but do I hesitate to speak it?
His name will not come up in every conversation. I say my primary association is with him. Does that instill me with such confidence as I meet people, engage them, wander the world? Am I aware of what it means to be a follower of Jesus? Does that means something, and if so, what?
Certainly it means something to others. Perhaps it means something different to everyone I meet. But what does it mean to me?
Does your association with Jesus alter your view of yourself?
How do you feel toward your ethnic or national identity?
What does your country's name mean to others? What does Jesus' name mean?
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