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. Matthew 5:16
There is a popular saying, here in America, which I find to be more relevant with each passing day. In case you have never heard it, it goes like this: “Sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
I found myself repeating that phrase several days ago when a woman, whom I had just met, unexpectedly opened-up to me about her many emotional pains, most of which were caused by years of mistreatment and neglect. Regrettably, most of her tormentors, she said, were self-proclaimed Christians. “I’ll tell you one thing,” she stated caustically, “The people in the bars (taverns) are a whole lot nicer than most Christians.”
This was definitely one of those times when listening was far more important than speaking, but I was very quick to point-out that not everyone who claims to be a Christian truly is. To be a Christian, I explained, is to be Christ-like; showing-forth the character of Jesus Christ in word, action, lifestyle and every other way. True Christians, I told her, hold firm to their convictions, but they are patient, loving and kind.
While it is true that the title of “Christian” has been so distorted and convoluted over time that it has taken on an entirely new meaning, especially here in America, it is still an absolute fact that true Christians live their lives so that Jesus Christ is honored and glorified in every way.
Today, there will be those who read this message who are Christian, and those who aren’t. To those of you who aren’t, may I exhort you to judge Christianity by those who truly live it, and not by mean-spirited, carnal people that don’t. The Bible warns that there will be many (ungodly) wolves out there wearing sheep’s clothing, or in other words, people who claim to be Christian but certainly are not –people that give Christianity a bad name and bring harm and destruction to Christians and non-Christians alike! How can you know the difference? The bible instructs that you will know us by our fruit. Simply stated, if our fruit is rotten, then we are not Christ-like, therefore, we are not true Christians.
For my fellow Christians, I encourage you to remember that “Christian” is not a dirty word. I know so many Christians who no longer care for the title, nor claim it for themselves, because its once enduring legacy has become so very ambiguous and unclear —distasteful even. However, you’ll remember that the designation of “Christian” was meant to be derogatory when it was first coined in Antioch in the first century as well. “You follow Christ!” they accused, and so dubbed the Christ-followers as “Christian.” Thus, the title Christian is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how vigorously others try to defame it. It is time that we Christians stand proud and restore its honor!
As a wise man once said, “Christians do not need to change their name; they simply need to live up to the one they already have.”