Early in my faith journey I started signing my correspondence and emails to fellow people of faith “Your Brother In Christ, John A. Giurin”. Eventually, for the sake of brevity in emails I made an acronym out of the words so I would simply sign off:
It didn’t take long before YBICJAG became my standard monicker for things like email addresses (you can still reach me at email@example.com), user names and other places where I needed some kind of an identity.
Now, however, I’m rethinking the place of YBICJAG as a public identity. For the longest time, both my Twitter and Instagram accounts used YBICJAG as the core identifier. On the surface, it’s just a bunch of letters with no obvious meaning. If you are the auditory type, you can pronounce it as if it was a word, yi-bic-JAG, further distancing it from it’s core value: Your Brother In Christ, John A. Giurin. Yet this distancing only takes a moment to undermine. If someone wants to know what it means, I will tell them. At the same time, it seems to me that I’m effectively hiding who I really am by using this acronym.
That’s why I am slowly dropping it from public forums and just going straight to my name. I want to be fully transparent and not hide behind a secret identity. More than that, I want to be sensitive to those who don’t identify themselves as Christians, or even as people of faith. If you don’t believe in Jesus, I can’t be your “Brother in Christ”; it becomes a point of isolation, if not outright contention. I doesn’t mean I hide who and what I am from people who don’t share my ideas about faith; it just means that I am meeting them on the level playing field of our common humanity. Of course, my thoughts will be informed by what I believe, but I won’t assume that we believe the same thing or that faith even has to enter into the conversation.
As one human being amongst billions, our names help to identify us and separate us from the crowd. They are not our entire identity. The are only one element that lets others know who we are. When we do use our names to make a statement, or choose nicknames that speak to our beliefs or core values, we add an extra element to our visible identity that might actually isolate us from others.
To people who share my faith in Jesus, I will always be their brother in Christ, not just in words, but in the way I treat our relationship. Beyond that tight circle, however, I will be just plain old John. I am not giving up my identity as a child of God in any way. I am simply trying to open myself up to all people, no matter what they believe.