The other day while I was in Physical therapy I overheard a woman say, “If you’re gonna call yourself a Christian, you should act like one.” Although she was not talking to me, my defenses sprang up and I was flooded with “righteous anger.” Not a Christian herself, she was judging my faith and the people who believe like I do. But within seconds my anger melted and I was nodding in agreement.
She is right in declaring that if we say we are something we should behave like that something. And the truth is, sometimes Christians don’t behave very Christ-like. Sometimes our behavior is rude, unloving and even immoral.
I wanted now to hug her and apologize for…the misunderstanding and for not meeting her expectation. I wanted to cry out Give us another chance….please.
The woman I heard talking doesn’t want to be a Christian. The question remains, would others want to be a Christian based on what they see in me? Do others want my God?
Are we pointing others to Christ or turning them away?
So, the last five days I’ve contemplated.
What does she think a Christian ought to act like?
Does she think we should act differently when we suffer hard times, actually believing in the powerful God we claim to put our trust in?
Did she mean we should be more forgiving and less gossipy? Should our words be more caring and kind? Should our actions reveal we believe in a loving God?
Is she drawn to our joy despite our circumstances?
Does she expect us to display self-control, deal with our tempers, be patient? Did she really expect us to look like the Jesus in the Bible?
I was at a certain Asheville festival several years ago and watched as a man stood on a riser yelling at the people though a bullhorn. I sauntered by. “You’re going to hell,” he announced as if he knew me. I wanted to climb up on that riser and strangle him! He never made eye contact. He scolded and judged. My son grabbed my arm and pleaded, “Mom, don’t say anything.” I didn’t. The man went on scolding and judging.
Is this the kind of hateful, judgmental attitude to which this woman was referring?
Unlike the man with the bullhorn, Jesus loved the people, ate with them, and then told them about new life with His Father.
We walked on down the street and noticed a very large gathering of 50 or more people. The atmosphere was peaceful, gentle, and loving. The new age organization had attracted so many people. And why wouldn’t it? Without using these words, their attitude seemed to ask, “Are there any out there weary, suffering, and in need of rest?” Who wouldn’t answer yes!
The sadness I feel in my heart, is that as believers in Christ we know that He alone offers rest, love, peace, and joy. Jesus offers forgiveness, grace, mercy, help and new life!
Why, oh why do we live as if we don’t have new life? When will we realize that our negative behavior can keep people from having the same life-giving relationship with Jesus that we have?
About the woman I overheard talking…
Yes, she was right.
Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.
Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV)
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must also do. But above all these things put on love which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Colossians 3:12-15 (NKJV)