2001-01-17 - 24/7 Christians
Luke 3:7-8 (LB) Here is a sample of John's preaching to the crowds that came for baptism: "You brood of snakes! You are trying to escape hell without truly turning to God! That is why you want to be baptized! First go and prove by the way you live that you really have repented."
Mahatma Gandhi was once asked "what is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?" He replied, "Other Christians." Gandhi was referring to the hypocrisy that the non-believers were seeing in the inconsistent behavior of the Christians around them. The more I speak with people who will have nothing to do with Christianity, the more I hear the words, "Why should I believe? You Christians are no different than us."
Some of my own experiences with Christians in a local church left me bitter, disillusioned and confused. The same people who were teaching on Sunday morning, the same people that were shaking hands and talking a good game, were the ones who were lying, cheating and doing unethical business deals on Monday.
In the Luke passage above, John's harsh words for the people of his time could equally be applied to "church" people today. Some see church as a necessary place to go to on Sunday. It is something to check off the to-do list or a way to make the boss happy and perhaps a place to acquire new clients. But come Monday, all the church stuff goes in the desk drawer.
A few years ago, a new believer was attending my Bible Study. He shocked me one morning after the study, by telling me that he was witnessing to his buddies at a bar every night and telling them about the Bible study. I asked him how it was going. He replied, "well, my friends don't see the difference between the old me and the new me. I still drink every night in the bar, but I am reading the Bible and telling them how 'cool' Jesus is."
1 John 1:6 (LB) So if we say we are his friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying.
James is saying, "don't just be hearers of the Word; do it!" John's verse says we are liars if we go on living in our old ways. I told my friend to either stop going to the bar, or maybe it would be better if he just did not try to witness to people until he started actually following Christ himself. My friend was doing more harm to the cause of Christ by coming to church than he would if he were to sleep in in on Sundays.
When we put on the uniform for Christ, people watch us. Christians are by no means perfect, but we can strive to be better each day. We can strive to live in a way that gives people incentive to say or think, "I want what you have. Your life seems better -- your actions are different and I like what I see. Tell me why you are different."
If you are in a management position, are you using Biblical values to determine how you treat your employees? As an employee, are you a clock-watcher, just doing enough to get by or are you doing your work for your Ultimate Boss -- God? Teachers and students, are you displaying Christlike characteristics at school? If you are a student, are you complaining about assignments and doing just what you have to, to "get by" -- or are you giving it your best, eager to learn? And at home, are you reflecting Christ in your behavior? As Lee Haines has said, "if God's character is to be understood in terms of my life, what does my child think of God?"
Join me today in trying to be more like Christ in every area of our lives. Let's strive to be 24/7 (24 hours/7 days per week) Christians, not just 1/1 (1 hour/1 day per week) Christians.
Father, search our hearts and show us where we are lacking. Help us to resist the temptations that come our way and to grow up each day to be more like You. In Christ's name, Amen.