Tag Archive for Christians

Saved–Part 3: Comfortable

 

As we covered in Part 2, to a person in the light, light is preferable, and to one in the dark, darkness is preferable. This is simply because that people tend to get comfortable with whatever state of existence they find themselves in. This becomes what you perceive as “normal.”  The longer your “normal” exists, be it darkness or light, the more you can’t imagine life being any other way.

A person sitting in the dark is not necessarily happy about it, but they are comfortable with their surroundings. So they justify their darkness, rather than turning on the light, which would involve getting out of the chair and flipping the switch.  A very simple action, but it does involve SOME effort.

Likewise, a person outside the church may not feel as though they are missing anything that Christianity can provide. A person walking in the light of Christ knows what the others are missing. However, what we as Christians need to remember is that sharing the gospel with somebody against their will is like flipping on a 100-watt bulb in a dark room. The light of Truth can burn your brain just like a sudden flip of a light switch can burn your eyes.

That is why so many people reject the gospel when they first hear it. It really has nothing to do with “logic and reason;” it is simply too much of a shock to the system for them to absorb.

We forget that for someone in the dark, there is actual pain involved with coming into the light for the first time. The pain goes away, and is replaced by a clearer understanding, but you don’t instinctively know that when you’re experiencing the pain.

 

 

Meanwhile, it should also be noted that those in the light actually have the same problem with being comfortable. Christians can get so used to the light, that we forget what it was like in the darkness, where we all began.

We can also get comfortable where we are and forget that we were called into the light for a purpose.  Our primary job is to flip on the light switch for other people sitting in the dark. This also involves effort and change—a change of attitude toward the people in the dark.

I think Paul said it best in his letter to Titus:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:3-5a)

That sounds like my life in a nutshell. No one saved me by arguing me into heaven. I did not save myself by simply deciding to “be good.” Jesus Christ chose to save me, because that is who He is, and that is what He does.

If I were to walk into a dark room now, I might stub my toe, but I could sit with an inhabitant of the darkness and talk to them about my own previously dark room. I could share that the only way I was able to light up my room was by first acknowledging that it was dark.

And who knows? By God’s mercy and grace, they might ask me to help them find the light switch. At the very least, they will know there’s a switch that needs flipping.

Christianity’s PR Problem–Part 6: PRove It!

 

PROVE IT!

 

If Christianity really does have a PR problem, the greatest single source of it may be the perception of hypocrisy.

It is not only possible but common for someone to have a set of ideals that they occasionally do not live up to.

On the other hand, an actual hypocrite is someone who deceptively and intentionally elevates their own outward image while inwardly or privately behaving in a completely different manner.

Unfortunately, throughout the centuries, many people within the church have done just that.  Even more unfortunately, we live in a culture that is equally self-seeking rather than Truth-seeking.

As a result, people who do not want to believe in God, instead of trying to learn more about Him and His followers, will instead seek out examples of why NOT to be a follower.  The most common excuse seems to be, “Christians are hypocrites, so why would I want to be one?”

Even so, our primary concern should not be to defend ourselves against the charges of hypocrisy by merely saying that we are not hypocrites.  Our job is to PRove it.

If anyone is to believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and that we, the Church, are His ambassadors, then it is imperative that our walk matches our talk.

Jesus summed up our mission in this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount:

You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 

You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill can not be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5: 13-16  NIV)

Notice that the motivation for a Christian’s good deeds is so that people will praise God, not the doer of the deeds.  Another person could do the very same deeds, praising Jesus with his mouth the entire way, but with self-serving motivation.  The world will notice this, and affix the label of “hypocrite” appropriately.

So here are a few PRactical ways to PRove to a skeptical world that your faith is genuine:

  1. Know your Bible.  If someone twists a Bible quote, you need to be able to call them on it in such a way as to correct the misinformation without condemning.
  2. Show an attitude of gratitude, rather than one of entitlement.  People perceive what you value most by how bent you get if you lose it.
  3. Persevere through trials; don’t be a whiner.  Anyone can complain, but complainers never see the view from the top of the mountain.
  4. Speak only what is beneficial for building people up and meeting the needs of all who listen (see Ephesians 4:29). Hint: the best way to find out what their needs are is to LISTEN before you speak.
  5. Invest time and energy into relationships and consider other people’s needs more important than your own.  People tend not to care what you know until they know that you care.
  6. NEVER COMPROMISE THE TRUTH!!!  Just as we do not serve the world by preaching at them from a judgmental stance, neither do we serve them by blending in.

The only difference between Christians and non-Christians is Christ, but that difference makes ALL the difference.

(Next, Part 7—The PRize)