This post is derived from the book Becoming A Contagious Christian (BACC) by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg.
You can tell what a person really stands for by what they do. Truly righteous acts stand out and move our hearts.
In a crazy world where truth is hard to find, the best indicator of what is right is the result of putting it into practice. Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her children.” He offered himself as the example of doing right so that we could have tangible evidence of God’s love and truth. His love is good.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
Faith in Christ is not in itself a difficult thing to find or have. What makes it hard is all the deception found in every corner of life leading away from him. The priority of a believer must be to follow Jesus by staying true to his word, true to others, and true to themselves. The reality of Christ is proven by actions that show he is present and demonstrate his love.
“A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.” Proverbs 14:5
Faith with a sound basis does not contradict sound reason. A lot of things human beings believe are based on vague speculation. Jesus came into a world nearly clueless about spiritual things and said, “I am the truth, the way, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “Follow me.” Following him is hard to do, but even the gravest doubter can see how great God is when a follower of his son stays true to his word:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39
The worst possible testimony comes from those who claim to follow Jesus but are nothing like him.
Love: You’re Doing It Wrong
If God hates sinners, we are all toast because Christ died for nothing.
I’m sure there will be a lot of surprises on judgment day. Christ said as much.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21-23
The more interesting thing is what scripture says about the reaction of those who never claimed to follow him to the actions of those who truly did put his words into practice:
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” 1 Peter 2:12 NLT
To share good news, a Christian has to be good news, or no one will listen. Love is practical. It’s not out there. It’s right where we stand or it isn’t. If people find God in you, they can find him through you.
“I never lied to you, until I lied to myself.” – song by Bryan Duncan
Maybe it’s just me, but pretty much every person I meet I find myself gauging their truthfulness. I don’t mean in a paranoid sense, just naturally. Are they being honest with me? With themselves? I’m not really inclined to connect with a liar, but I’m genuinely attracted to people who are authentic.
Authentic people are true to their identity. They are forthright. They have real feelings, real convictions, and real questions. They have substance.
At Universal Studios in Los Angeles you can take a back lot tour to get a glimpse of how movies are made. The tram will take you around to see streets of facade buildings. You learn interesting tidbits, like how they made doorways smaller in old westerns to make the cowboys look bigger. It’s interesting and fun. Afterwards though, your suspension of belief while watching a movie may be interrupted by sights you remember from the tour. You remember it’s all Hollywood magic.
Many people turn away from Christ because they experienced a church or believers who were disingenuous. They see through it and want to escape to a safe haven. The way back from that exile is to find Christ is the haven. The Joy of Christ is being set free from bondage. Facades are bondage.
Freedom In Truth
Freedom is a topic of much discussion in scripture. It’s what the whole mission of sharing Christ is about. Authenticity helps free others to be themselves. True bonds form between people who are real and unpretentious with each other.
This following Christ thing is hard. He is worth following, but if we want to convince others of that we have to earn a place in their lives. It’s tempting to sugarcoat things, like a salesman, but when you spend that much time with someone they are going to figure things out about you. It had better be the truth or Christ will not be revealed in you. It’s God’s job to use whatever you are, however you are, to reveal himself. If he lives inside you, you have a real relationship with him. You just need to let that be visible.
It’s equally important for believers to give others freedom. Christ showed his love by dying for us while we were still his enemies. Grace is our lifeblood. If we give it as freely as we have received it people will be drawn to him. That’s not condoning sin. It’s simply acknowledging: we all come in through the same door. We all need Savior. God is the transformer. We are the transformees. Best not get that mixed up.
Substance In Identity
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13:14
In each of us God places supreme value. He made us for good. Sin has made us dysfunctional. It curses the entire planet. But underneath it the remnants of God’s perfect design are there for us to engage. It’s a beautiful thing to see a person using the gifts God gave them in their own unique way to bless him and others. It testifies to his goodness.
All of us are one of a kind. Authentic people learn who they are so they have something genuinely valuable to give. It provides a window to see God from another angle. It’s important for believers to use what makes them substantively unique to honor God. God plants diversity for a reason. He’s not chucking out an assembly line of rag dolls. His plans are bigger and better.
There is one God, one Savior, one message, but there is no one way to share it. The best way is whatever way God has given you to roll with. You know its from him when the power to do it is greater than yourself. That’s him working to open your unique window for others to see him.
A lot more people get God when Christians get real.