Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
2 Corinthians 6:3 "We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will no be discredited."
2 Corinthians 6:17 "...come out from among them and be separate."
I recently read a book about a secular guy who decided to write a story about what it's like to live as and be a Christian. He went incognito in a Christian setting with young adults his own age. He chose his words carefully to lead everyone to believe he was a Christian. He wanted to live with Christians, understand them, understand the Bible, and then compare what he was being taught to how he was actually raised. He joined prayer groups, praying right along side others. He joined the choir. He joined Bible Study groups. He even went on a mission trip.
I struggled as I read the book..so much so that I'm not even sure I would recommend it to someone. (Thus, the vague description and no book title listed!) You see, this guy's final words were something to the effect that most of the Christians he met were no different than his secular friends, and to him, that was a positive thing. He had overcome his stigma of Christians. In that sense, Christians were portrayed in a good light...kind of a FOX news 'fair and balanced" approach. However, it killed me to read his words of how most of the Christians he met were no different than him.
In the end of his five month Christian indoctrination, the author ultimately did not change his beliefs that there was only one way to get to heaven. No, his core beliefs didn't change, but his pre-conceived negative slant on Christians did change. He learned to pray, and he kind of liked that feeling of praying for others. It made him feel better. He also found out that serving others makes you feel good, even if you're not serving God.
As I read the book, I really tried to have the same "fair and balanced" approach. Certainly, I didn't agree with the author's world-view, but I did appreciate the evidential fact that he was trying to understand it all without casting judgment. There were times that I wanted to write a rebuttal to some of his comments about Christian beliefs that were taken out of context. In the end, I think it was good for me to read it, because it just enlightened me to my need to be different.
Think about it. What if one day you found out that your best friend was hanging out with you, going to church with you, and praying with you---just for a story. How would you be portrayed in the book? After finding out the author's real "mission", one of his friends told him, "Man, I wish I would have known. I would have acted differently." It pains me to see and read about people who claim to be a Christian - a representative of Christ - but they live their lifestyle no differently than the person who doesn't give a rip about God.
Reading the book challenged me to live out 2 Corinthians chapter six and especially the verse listed above in Matthew 5. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Good works and being a good person don't get me to heaven. But because of the relationship I have with Jesus Christ, the natural bi-product will be good works. People should be drawn to Christians, if they are living the way God would expect them to be. If someone told me I was just like everyone else, I would be devastated and embarrassed. Sure, I like to fit in with the crowd, wear 'in style' clothes, look good, etc. But my lifestyle should represent Christ in every aspect so that anyone could observe me and know without a doubt that I have a growing relationship with God.
Here's some questions to ponder...
1. Do I have friends in my circle that do not have a relationship with Christ?
2. Am I any different from those friends?
3. If someone wrote an expose about me, what would they say?
4. Would I be exposed as a Christian or a fraud?
5. Do I have a growing relationship with the Lord? (Bible reading, times of confession, prayer)
6. Am I conscious of my sin or the sins I struggle with?
7. What am I doing to actively reach friends who do not know the Lord?
8. Do I even care?
If you are one of my friends who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please talk to me. Email me. Consider choosing Christ. Living the Christian life is not about a bunch of rules and regulations. On the contrary. I have such joy and freedom because I know Who I'm anchored to.
Just think about it.