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Thursday, October 12, 2017

How are you depicted?

People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do that, know that great blessings belong to you. Be happy about it. Be very glad because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven. People did these same bad things to the prophets who lived before you.  (Matthew 5:11-12 ERV)
Recently I have viewed two movies that projected Christians in a very unbecoming manner. One showed the woman as a "Bible-thumping" prudish woman who alienated people with all her "holier-than-thou" talk. The other depicted the believer as someone always being the brunt of jokes, poked fun at for not wanting to do some of the things his buddies wanted to do which almost always bordered on the edge of breaking the law or actually going all the way to be law-breaking offenses. It wasn't that the young man didn't want to break the law, it was the way they depicted him - always giving some "pat" Bible answer for why they shouldn't do what they were about to do. The answers weren't wrong, but the unbelieving friends weren't going to understand "Christian-speak" any better than I understand Russian! If we are going to take a stand for our convictions, then we need to be ready to stand, but in gentleness, kindness, and with humility. We aren't to throw the scripture into the faces of those with opposing views. We aren't to be doormats, either. There is a fine balance to be maintained and we won't always be understood for our convictions.
Know what you believe and then live it. This is the best way to "message" God's Word. Don't be confrontational - no one likes the Word of God being shoved down their throats. It doesn't do as much good to quote the passage as it does to live it out. When we look at the life of Jesus, it was his words the religious leaders found fault with. It was his actions the hurting and searching fell in love with! Don't expect the unbelieving, unchurched to understand "church-speak". The ways we talk "about" God to the unbelieving might just cause more of a wall to go up than we wanted. If we are to be effective as witnesses of God's grace, then we just need to live out that grace - by displaying the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. 
Love - let it guide your answers and your actions.
Joy - let it shine out, speaking of the deep faith we have in Jesus.
Peace - let it be the basis of our relationships with all men, even when circumstances change and others demand things opposed to peaceful exchange.
Patience - let it be the hallmark of your exchanges with each other, for nothing speaks louder of our faith than to be willing to long-suffering with another's actions.
Kindness - let hatred be displaced by the return of kind deeds when the expected response would be to retaliate.
Goodness - let all that you speak and do be that which is profitable. The words we speak aren't going to affect others until they see what those words produce within in our lives.
Faithfulness - let all we do be consistent and unwavering. The steps we take toward obedience aren't to be done in secret, but they are to be the billboards of God's grace in our lives.
Gentleness - let it overshadow even the harshest of actions against us and be amazed at how this one trait brings the hearts of the hardened to a place of questioning what it is that resides within us.
Self-Control - let it be evident that obedience is a choice and is exercised in our every action, but not because we are "holier-than-thou", just that we are forgiven sinners in pursuit of greater grace.
Just sayin!