What's the Message?
A car with a bumper sticker that reads "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven," goes speeding past you and cut's you off on the freeway. As you scramble to gain control of your car, you think to yourself "does being forgiven give you the license to run me off the road?"
Two ladies meet for coffee. One wears a shirt that says "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and the other wears a jacket that says "Jesus Rules!" Their conversation is based on the latest church gossip based on the prayer meeting they just attended.
A couple sitting next to them exchange glances. The wife says, "If that is the way they talk about each other after their prayer meeting, then I certainly don't want to go to that church."
A busy executive spends many hours during the week leading the men's ministry at his church and preparing/teaching bible study. He also counsels many couples through his church that are having trouble in their relationships. But, he never has time for his family and often loses his temper with his wife and kids at home. Only his family sees his true colors.
The driver, the ladies displaying the Christian slogans and the busy executive all have something in common. They all believe they are shining the light of Christ to the world.
WHAT'S THE MESSAGE???
If you had encountered these people and you were searching for an example of the gospel, what would you have learned from them? Would you have found their words and actions attractive, or would you have been repelled by them?
Even everyday situations such as driving to work, having coffee and serving at church, what we do and how we act speak volumes to those around us.
Because we are Christians, when people hear the name of Jesus, they see a picture of us in their minds. How we live our lives sends a message to them about who Jesus is and what the Christian faith is all about.
If someone were to give a description of the Gospel just from observing your life, what do you think that person would say? What message is your life proclaiming?
Many years ago, I had a patient who was going into respiratory distress. I called the ER doctor up to the floor because my patient's oxygen levels were rapidly dropping. After the doctor arrived, we had to insert a chest tube immediately to help him breath. During this ordeal, my patient kept praying out loud to God, promising to proclaim God's healing to all he comes into contact with if God would just get him through this. Well, God did get him through it. In fact, the next day he said he felt like a new person. His proclamation of the gospel was mostly heard by the patient in the bed next to him, but also to those of us caring for him. His words were heartfelt and sincere. He beamed a smile from ear to ear and praised God over and over and asked to see the hospital chaplain to pray prayers of praise with him. However, as soon as his family came to see him, he drastically changed personalities. He was angry and yelling at everyone. I could hear him down the hallway and ran into his room to see what the commotion was. As soon as I entered, he threw a cup of coffee at me. To be honest, I was quite confused. He had such a sincere heart towards God, I couldn't imagine this sweet old man yelling at a fly, let alone his family! And then throwing things? As soon as they left, he went right back to his happy self, proclaiming God's healing. As if nothing had happened.
On the family's way out, the wife apologized to me stating they are use to his actions and for me not to take it personal or be hurt by his yelling. That he was by nature just a very angry person at home, but sweet to everyone else outside of the home.
Through our lives people learn the message of the Gospel. If what we say and what we do don't match up, we create confusion and could cause people to reject the message.
This rings true today especially, since we are living history as we speak. Life has changed drastically in the past months. The world is not the same. I'm so grateful that I've witnessed so many acts of kindness lately. The media portrays fights over toilet paper and parking spots. Hateful words are spewed all over the news.
But I personally have not seen this. What I see is people helping people. If there is a line a the store, wonderful, happy conversations happen. Neighbors are helping neighbors. The kind actions of most are speaking louder than the words any media puts out.
We are learning what it really means to "seek first the kingdom of God," but need to ask ourselves: What about those who know us best or interact with us personally? Do our families and friends see the light of Christ in us? What do our neighbors think of the way we demonstrate our faith? Do we treat people the way Christ would when we address the clerk at Home depot or talk with a ticket taker at the airline when the flight is two hours late?
Some of these things might sound insignificant on the surface. Does it really matter if we snap at the waiter because he gave us the wrong change or if we make a sarcastic remark about the way someone is dressed? How about someone with body piercings or tattoos all over them? What kind of look to you give that person in the restaurant who loves to hear themselves talk? You know, the ones who talk and laugh way too loud so everyone can hear their opinion. We may not think our actions in these situations are a big deal, but these actions are very significant in God's eyes because we're meant to do what Christ would do in every situation we're in.
There is a vital connection between what we say and what we do. Our actions either give credibility to our words, or undermine their validity. We must earn the right to be listened to.
The Bible says, "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." What this means is that when Jesus came to earth, He was the the Living Word among the people. It wasn't just His words, but His very life, that was the message.
When we receive Christ into our lives, He no longer just makes His dwelling among us, as He did when He was living on earth, but He dwells within us. When we allow Him to live His life through us, our lives become louder than words. We are to be living and walking pictures of Christ.
We may be the only bible some will read. Make your words count and make your actions speak louder than your words. Do not seek glory for your actions, but keep a humble heart and be an example of Christ through your love for others.
Today, our lives are the message.