A Christian Image–You should care what others think

Ever heard the phrase “I don’t care what other people think about me?”  Or “It’s not about what others think of me, it’s about what I think of me.”  Maybe even your parents told you that.  I hate that phrase.  A lot.  Because we do care.  As humans, it’s inevitable.  There’s a reason I get up, shower, put on deodorant, and put on cologne (sometimes) every day.  Yes, I want my girlfriend to think I smell good.  But I also don’t want the guy next to me in class to sit through a lecture thinking “Oh wow….he smells like fish guts and three-week old milk.”  There’s a few reasons I brush my teeth every day.  One, I have a decent sense of personal hygiene.  Two, I don’t want my breath to smell like crap.  I put on decent clothes and try to look my best so my professors and classmates know that I take my work seriously.  So stop lying to yourself, both Christians and non-Christians alike…you DO care what others think.  And to the Christians, you should.

Now, before I go any further, let me define what I mean when I say you should care what others think.  For the Christian, we are NOT to find our satisfaction in man’s praise.  We are NOT to define ourselves by the world’s definition.  My definition of success is not when the world tells me good job, it’s when the Lord is glorified by my work.  Yes, I want to succeed in journalism.  I want my professor to say good job.  But when she says good job, what I hope is that she understands by my attitude and by the content of my writing and how I present it, that I serve God, not myself.  Ultimately, however, if I never make it “big” as a journalist, I’ll be content if God is made much of through my writing, and I never even receive a sticker.

What the Christian is to care about is what people see when they look at you.  While we find our comfort, our sense of who we are, and our knowledge of true success and love in Christ, we are also called to be the image of Christ to the nations.  I DON’T care if people never praise me for my writing.  I DON’T care if they ever see me as a great guy in the worldly sense.  If they don’t think I’m “cool” or a “manly” man…so be it.

“For if i were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”–Galatians 1:10

But I DO care, and all Christians should, whether they see Christ in me.  If they see love in me.  If they see me as someone they can come to with problems and can trust me.  If I can be comic relief when it’s needed.  If they see me as reliable and dependable.  I do care if they see me as tenderhearted and caring.  I DO care if they see Christ…and care even more if they can’t see Him.

Let me pose some questions:  What happens when non-believers look at our churches today and see that our divorce rates are the same as the non-believers?  When they see that our anger is just as great as theirs?  What happens when they see scandals that rock our churches?  What happens when they see us arguing and bickering over secondary issues that really don’t matter?  What happens when they see us elevate ourselves, our buildings, and our paychecks over what we say we believe?

What happens when we do these things, but fail to remember the Great Commission?  When we do not share Christ with the world around us?  I’ll tell you what happens.  Well, actually…..Jesus will.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”–Luke 12:8-9 ESV

That’s what happens.  We say we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He has changed our lives.  And people watch us, day in and day out, and I believe that far too often, all they see is someone who puts on khaki pants on Sunday mornings and may even listen to some new music.

God didn’t radically change your life, or my life, or send His Son to die for us, so that you could wear nice pants and listen to Chris Tomlin for the rest of your life and call yourself a Christian.

The simple fact is, is that when we live like the people described in the questions five paragraphs earlier, and when we fail to truly live the Christian life, people do not see God.  And we must start to question whether we ourselves have actually come to know Christ.

What difference does Christ make in your life?  Ask yourself this.  For me, it means that when I feel lonely, I can go to my heavenly Father and find comfort.  When I start to feel overwhelmed, I can give up all my troubles to Him.  It means that I find my satisfaction in knowing that I am loved by Him who created the world, and that I am no longer captive to the destructive power of sin.  If you find that it really doesn’t make a difference, start asking yourself if you have ever truly believed.

The world is watching.  And we MUST realize this.  We are called to live radically different than the world.  When trouble comes, we trust in a higher power.  The Creator of the universe.  When disaster hits Japan, we point to God’s sovereignty and rest on the promise that He IS in control, no matter what.  When parents get divorced and husbands die, we rest on God’s promise to never leave us.  That’s what makes the difference.  It comes down, not just to morals, but to where our sense of right and wrong, of what to do in all situations, and how to live life comes from.  It comes from God.  Another phrase I don’t like: “Share your faith, and if necessary, use words.”  It sounds good, and there’s truth in it.  We are to live lives that point to the cross.  But there are hundreds and thousands of people who live good, upstanding, moral lives that are going straight to hell.  Gandhi and Thomas Jefferson are two of them.  We must SPEAK about why we do what we do, and about where our strength and love comes from.

Do we build ourselves up, or do we make God known?  What image do you put off everyday?  Does your life shout and scream the glory of God, or does it say “Yeah, I’m a good guy, I can do all these things, and yeah, I guess Jesus is pretty cool?”  As the church, are we more concerned with building good-looking buildings than building up the kingdom of God?  Is the majority of our money going to spread the Gospel?  Are we loving with other believers who we may not agree with on every single secondary issue?  I hate to see Christians divided over these issues that don’t matter (and I’ll save those specific issues for later blogs).  Because when it comes down to it, the church, the universal body of Christ, has one goal, and one goal only, and that’s to bring glory to God by making Him known.  If you are not doing that, you are failing. Period.  No way around it.

One more question I’ll leave you with:

If the world isn’t seeing Christ when they look at you….what do they see?

Scary thought that someone could look at a “Christian” and see anything BUT Jesus.  Unfortunately, especially in America, where nominalism is prevalent, this happens everyday.  People of God, church: We must come back to true faith that transforms lives, and allow God to transform our image, that we may make His name known.  And we must do this now.

God bless,

Neal

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