Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Reputation of our Character


What are you known for?  This is a serious question.  I do not mean what are you known for in terms of what skills you may have.  What I do mean is your testimony.  For example, Tim Tebow is known as a fairly mediocre quarterback.  More importantly, he is know for being a devout Christian.  I am talking about the reputation of our characters and what people see of Jesus in our lives.  Perhaps you think this is really unimportant, but please know that the souls of the unsaved people in your life may depend on how well you represent Jesus to them.  One person who knew the importance of reputation was Paul.
Imitate me, just as I also [imitate] Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
That is a rather bold statement to make.  How many of us can say this?  I know that many times I can not.  I know all of us have our points in life where we are not glorifying God.  But then again, so did Paul.  Paul was not without sin and neither are we.  That is not the point.  The point is that Paul was known to be a man of God and not known to be a sinner.  Paul was known as an evangelist.  When Paul talked about his time with nonbelievers it was how he reached out to them for Jesus and not how drunk he got or how much fun he had.  When Paul did fail, I am sure he confessed his sins and worked at repenting of what he did wrong.  That is what he calls us to do in his epistles and I have no reason to believe that he did not do the same.  Paul was sure enough of his testimony to ask that others imitate him as he imitates Christ.

I think we need to examine and see if we can say the same for us.  We really need to examine what we are known for.  Are we known for being drunk?  Are we known for being a party person?  Are we known for having the latest gossip and always ready and willing to share?  Are we known for being worldly?  Are we known for being angry and mean?  Are we known for being sinful?  If any of those are true, we really need to examine our lives.  It grieves me to hear nonbelievers talking to a believer and you can not tell which one is the believer.  It hurts because if there is no difference, there is no witness.  It hurts because it shows the complete and utter lack of Jesus in the life of the believer.  How is the unbeliever going to be reached for Jesus when comparing drinking stories with the believer?  Is Jesus glorified by being able to hold our liquor?  Are our words sprinkled with grace as we share gossip with our unbelieving friends?  Is the Holy Spirit shining through us when we are being rude and mean? 

We are called to be the example.  Jesus tells us that we are the light and salt of the earth.  We are not supposed to worldly but living in Jesus showing the world that there is a better way that leads to eternal life.  Unfortunately, many of us would rather be loved by many than lead a few to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ.  Many would rather just get drunk and party than live as the example they are called to be.  I have news for you Christian, the world is supposed to reject you.  Your unsaved friends are not supposed to understand the life you live.  That is the life you are called to live in Jesus Christ.  We are supposed to be persecuted for our lifestyle and beliefs.  That is one promise of Jesus that many of us forget. 

What is just as bad are those of us that enable such behavior.  Do we laugh at the Christian acting drunk and funny and encourage that behavior?  Do we ask the gossip to share with us the latest gossip or do we walk away when the conversation turns in that direction?  Do we accept the behavior of the angry Christian acting out in front of the unsaved or do we confront and correct that brother or sister?  We should be offended at their behavior.  They need to be confronted and corrected and not encouraged the way we so often do.  Just because a sin is "funny" or "entertaining" does not make it acceptable.  Would you encourage that same Christian if they were torturing puppies in their spare time?  Would you encourage them if they were racist and were constantly spouting off hateful remarks at others?  We you encourage their pornography habit and even joke about it with their friends?  Of course you would not, those sins are not entertaining.  But, then again, if sin truly offends us the way it does God, should we be entertained at all?  And if we are, why are we not ashamed of ourselves for celebrating the behavior that sent Jesus to the cross and sends others away from the cross? 

Its so important that we take the time to examine ourselves.  We are not called to be "cool" or worldly.  We are not called to be loved by the world.  We are promised that we will be rejected by the world.  Paul was no stranger to rejection.  He was imprisoned, scourged, stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and abused yet he did it all for the cross.  We are to follow his example as he followed the example of Jesus who was also despised and rejected by the world.  If you really do not have the desire to live as a Christian then why did you make that decision for Jesus in the first place?  Have you counted the costs?  Have you taken the time to consider what that would mean for your life?  Salvation is free but it leads to a changed life.  The epistles of Paul are filled with admonitions for righteous living.  Jesus talked of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following after him.  The fact is that it can not be both ways.  You can be a child of the world or a man of God.  You can follow the world in unrighteousness or lead the world by living righteously.  You can show others that church is just something you do or you can show them that being part of the church is who you are.  The real question you need to ask yourself is if you did not tell people, would anyone know you were a Christian? 
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.   Matthew 6:24 NKJV

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