January 9, 2014.
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”
What percentage of your sphere of influence knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are a disciple of Christ? Has this ambiguity crept into our lives as American Christians? I have wondered this many times in the past. It seems in scripture that Jesus and his disciples never considered that their belief system would go unnoticed. Most everywhere Paul went, he taught Christ. To every Church he wrote, he told them to proclaim Christ. He was thrown in jail in many cities he went to for proclaiming this name when they didn’t want him to. What does that say about us today?
I attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and as I walk to class or sit in a lecture, sometimes I wonder: “Do the people sitting close to me know I’m a Christian? Do my actions give me away? Do they at least see something different about me as opposed to non-believers?” This is not to say that you should be able to look at a Christian and instantly label them without any more information. However, in many of my classes (as I am a senior), there are people who I have set with for the past few years. We have been lab partners, formed study groups and just hung out with each other in general. Do they know I am a Christian? And, perhaps a more important questions, do they know I am a Christian due to my actions and the way I treat them?
In America, I believe it is so easy to make Christianity that thing you do on Sunday but is separated from many other aspects of our lives. I am a Christian on Sunday, but a student on Monday. Or an employee. A coworker. A boss. This was never the intention of Christ. He has always intended his followers to portray him in every aspect of our lives, not just in telling people where we go to church. Listen to the words of our Lord:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This is a well known passage, but I am a bit cynical on how well applied it is. Jesus said that all people will know that we are his disciples. If people do not know that we are his disciples, is that a failed prophecy of Jesus, or does that mean we are doing something wrong? I am going to assume the latter.
So how do we differentiate ourselves? There are many ways to grow as a Christian and produce the fruits of the Spirit. I suggest that we begin by simply applying the words of Jesus. The reading today you may recognize as the sermon on the mount (at least in Matthew’s account, as some would say that Luke’s account is actually a different sermon about the same things. The words hold true, regardless). We recognize this story, but don’t always apply the teachings to our lives. Why? Because they are hard. Jesus didn’t preach a worldview that was “happy-go-lucky, do whatever you want and love God.” Jesus made some hard statements that go against out natural human tendencies. That’s how we are differentiated. We are to be a light to the world. We can’t be that light if we are the same as everyone else. Jesus called us out of the world, to minister to those in the world. May we all find our calling and let the teachings ring true in our lives!
Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 5-7, Luke 6
May the Lord grant you growth in his presence.