Have you ever thought that your Christian life is not exactly winning some people to Christ, sometimes even turning them off to Christianity? Have you ever felt that your testimony was always tainted and as a result you were being a “stumbling block” (Romans 14.13) to others? That your light wasn’t so “shining before men” (Matthew 5.16) no matter how you tried?
Yes, we were made in the image of our Father (Genesis 1.26-28), thus created to remind the world of Him (Philippians 2.14-16). But when our focus shifts from loving God and loving people (Mark 12.28-31) to putting on a performance good enough to be accepted by God and the people around us (Luke 18.9–14), we miss the entire point of living for God and end up allowing condemnation to turn God’s beautiful purpose for creating us, into an ugly judgment on Christianity that will forever contain us.
If you’ve ever been challenged by these thoughts, throw a huge party because you are not alone (1 Corinthians 10.13). Guess who’d be the guest of honour? Jesus, Himself. Jesus, the very One Who fully depended on the Holy Spirit to make it in this life (Isaiah 11.2, Acts 2.22), the very expressed image of the invisible God (Colossians 1.15, Hebrews 1.3), still ended up being hugely misperceived by – take this – not just anyone, but by the very people He was closest to: His disciples (John 14.9)! So bad that God had to shake some sense into Peter before he could even figure out Who Jesus really was (Matthew 16.13-19)! Jesus also had to have a sit-down with Paul before he finally made the slightest sense of God (Acts 22.1-8). Paul, of all people! He could argue his way to becoming the Scriptures’ biggest fan (Phil 3.4-6)! Alas, some people just won’t get it, not because they cannot, but because they don’t want to (Acts 22.9, John 12.40). Even sadder, what they do about what they see (or don’t see) is still entirely their own responsibility (John 5.34-38, Proverbs 19.11).
Nonetheless, our life of following Jesus made available for God to use as a wake-up call to those around us is the whole point of our witness (Isaiah 8.1-2) – yes, we overcome with our testimony (Revelation 12.11), but the Holy Spirit is the One Who freely makes it powerful, timely and effective (John 14.26) to those who run after Him (Hebrews 11.6). Jesus knew Whose opinion mattered (John 4.34, 5.30,34-38, 8.28-29), which then let Him perfectly hit His target without a single miss (John 17.4, 19.30).
Indeed we are to put on our best behaviour (Philippians 2.15, Romans 6.1-3), but this conduct is already the fruit of us loving God and people out of gratitude for God loving us first (Ephesians 2.10). As we continue to exist in and draw from this love relationship with God we get to become more like Him – daily being transformed from our imperfection to His perfection (Colossians 3.10, 2 Corinthians 3.18). Our calling is to be blameless (Philippians 2.15), not sinless – that is God’s department in us (Hebrews 10.14, 1 Corinthians 1.8, Romans 4.5). The heart of the matter is devotion, not perfection – the matter of which is our heart, our direction. So don’t look at where you are at and beat yourself up. Instead, look at where you’re headed, because the image of God is seen in us changing and becoming, not in our arriving. As long as we are changing, people have the chance to see God working in us.
Running out of gas because of all you see around you? Load up on God and look to Him to keep loving Him and the people around you. Don’t know what to say or do to make things better and speak life into a rotten situation? Just love. And keep loving out of God. You’ll know how to do it.
Reality is for the “now”, immediate and fleeting; the Word of God is always true. We believe the truth not to get results; we believe the truth because it’s true. We live for God not to please people; we live for God because that’s living.
copyright © 2010 by romel r. saplaco. all rights reserved.
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