If anyone has reason to be confident in their Lutheran pedigree I have more. Baptized as an infant, bearing a German surname, a Lutheran born of Lutherans, as to education Lutheran grade school, high school, college, and seminary, as to employment nine years a Lutheran school teacher & youth director, and Lutheran pastor for twenty-five. Of course the same could be said of other things as well. Years spent in Bible Study Fellowship, giving more than a tithe, status as a deacon or elder, or even quiet and unassuming piety. It is a sign of our separation from the surpassing value of knowing Christ that even humility can be a source of pride. But when we count our status as Christians in a culture shaped by Christianity as rubbish we might forsake labels of conservative or liberal, progressive or orthodox and cease being churches that compete for clients by claiming to be better at making disciples or providing more programs than the big box down the street. When the surpassing value of knowing Christ means I skip a meal to provide food for someone who is starving, when the debate over health care remembers the children who suffer because parents are poor, when living a moral life is not an option or an obligation but a reflection of Christ then we can we have come close to knowing the Christ. Truth is we can only share in Christ’s sufferings when we can no longer follow the crucified by taking up a cross that is comfortable.