This is my first writing of any kind concerning the subject of faith. It’s in many ways a bit scary. On one hand: I don’t want to anger anyone, because let’s be honest, to many whom believe it is one of the things in their life most sacred. On the other hand, as a Christian myself, I have seen many others who believe conduct themselves in a manner that saddens me. Now, full disclosure: I as a Christian am not perfect. I am, in fact by birth a sinner and I do not deserve salvation. But I believe that God in his infinite wisdom desiring to rescue us, his children from eternal damnation, and desiring relationship with us, offered up his only son to forever pay the price for our Sin. That thought is so hard to reconcile, and life is so difficult to live as one saved by the eternal father. But, I do the best I can. I fail, I sin, but I learn from my mistakes and live a life as much in line with his teachings as I can.
That being said, in this day and age in America: The church has fallen to it’s lowest levels of attendance, participation, respect, and influence ever. There are many reasons for this in my mind, including: 1) The fracturing of the family unit 2) Individual cases of horrible Sin and crime within Church leadership 3) The rise of an organized push toward extreme secularism and 4) Human sin. Many in the Leadership of Churches in America have noted the decline and have attempted various strategies toward reversing the trend. But the problem isn’t just at the Macro, or Strategic level, in fact in many cases its as simple as an un-churched person having negative experiences involving someone whom is a believer.
That’s pretty shocking: So I have to wonder and in turn ask those who consider themselves believers: “Have you ever done or said anything that could in some way have reflected negatively on our faith?” It’s an important question, and if you are reading this and you are a believer, Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. I’ll say the answer is probably “Yes.” Now, this isn’t instant damnation, as we are ultimately forgiven if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and is our savior, but remember what the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:12 (NLT) 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.
What’s the important take away here? Is it more important to be like the Neighborhood Police Officer and condemn or criticize our Family, Friends, and Neighbors about each and every mistake they make or place in their lives where they are not living up to God’s desires? Or, is it more important to show the Love of Christ to others in our lives? Before you answer, consider Mathew 7:1-5
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
And Luke 6:37
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven
In my mind, that’s not our role as believers. Rather, our role is to provide a good example both for other believers and those who may not. Again, this is addressed in the Bible:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
But put even more simply, if we care about other people regardless of whether they are family, friends, co-workers, or strangers, what usually works best within the realm of human interaction: Honey or Vinegar?
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about ignoring heinous sin, but even in those cases, while the Sin is terrible, isn’t it up to God to settle the score?
I know what side I come down on. I believe that God would have me attract more to him by being a good example. I have a long way to go, and there are probably things in my life I need to change in order to become a better example. But are any of us ever good enough? But still, regardless of my failings, I am ready to tell about my Savior if or when the opportunity presents itself. In that way, I hope that I can help more come to believe and by doing so hopefully hear the words “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant” when my day to join our Lord comes.