May 11, 2021
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12, NIV).
Many years before, when he was shot down in Vietnam, he was rescued, but he thought he was going to die from his injuries. A chaplain from a different faith tradition was there praying for the wounded. He asked that chaplain to pray for him. That chaplain asked him what denomination he was affiliated with. When he replied, the chaplain said, “Your pastor will come by in a while.” At that moment, when he was reaching out desperately to touch the hand of God and received a rebuff, my patient said to his faith in God, “Forget that,” and never went back, until recently. I had been his doctor for some time. I was in his home, tending to his present suffering, and I asked him that night, “May I pray for you?” He replied, “Please do.”
My patient has rejected God most of his lifetime because early in life he himself felt rejected by God’s representative. That rejection may well have been unintentional, but, like when my kids would cry out, “I didn’t mean to,” I would tell them, “It’s not good enough not to mean to; you’ve got to mean not to.”
Many of us live our lives as Christians intending to bring others to Christ but inhibit that intention by our insensitivity to those we are sent to serve. We care, but we don’t pay attention. We carelessly sin in front of others, and they sin as a result of our example. Or we show indifference when someone badly needs encouragement, and they turn from Christ, assuming He must be indifferent as well. Or we slander a competitor, so they slander the Jesus we follow. We did not mean to turn them away from God, but we did not mean not to; we did not seek to be continually aware of our influence on the lost around us, and continually diligent regarding our behavior around them.
What if I, a follower of Christ, became intentionally aware of my position as a representative of Christ at all times, and determined to live like Christ around those who are lost from Christ, and then spoke a word for Christ?
Mahatma Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Let me be intentional about my example as a follower of Christ when I am around those who do not know you.