Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What People Think About Him In Me

                The other day, I was reminded of a time when my daughter was in the fourth or fifth grade. My daughter was and still is a very bold and outgoing personality, and I have always admired that about her. But this one morning in particular, her boldness taught me a very valuable lesson about my own life as a Christian. She came out from her room dressed and ready for school as usual. Before she sat down to eat her breakfast I noticed that she wearing her very brightly colored striped jeans and a very brightly colored striped shirt. The stripes on her jeans were headed downwards, and the
stripes on her shirt were headed straight across. They not only clashed in stripe patterns, but the colors made her look like a clown.  Very nicely and calmly I asked her if she had thought about what she had chosen to wear to school that day. She looked down at her outfit and said that she liked what she had picked out. I told her that I would recommend that she go and change because someone was bound to comment on her outfit and even possibly make fun of her.
                My daughter, very emphatically, replied to me that she did not care what other people thought, she liked what she was wearing because it reflected her mood and she would not change to please anyone. I again advised her that maybe she should care. I told her that I did not want her feelings getting hurt when someone made fun of her outfit, I mean, let’s face it, kids are mean and someone was definitely going to say something. But, my daughter, determined to a fault, put her hands on her hips and said that if they could not like her for who she was then they didn’t need to be her friend anyway. I did not say another word to her as she walked out the front door, pleased as pudding in the brightly colored clown suit she had chosen for that day.
                I do admire her carefree attitude when it comes to the opinions of others. Even now, as a grown woman, that same determined attitude to be her own person is one of her greatest attributes. I, on the other hand, have always struggled with the opinions of others. It is something that the Lord and I have been working on for years, and we are still working on it. I do not know why I care so much about what others might think, but I do. I am getting better at it, but every once in a while it will pop up and I find myself saying things I do not mean and trying to make the situation work out for everyone because I don’t want them to think I am a bad person. This caring about what other people think about me has made me stumble in my walk, caused me pain and I am pretty sure caused other people pain as well.
                As Christians we are encouraged to care less about what others think and care only about what God thinks of us. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. The only one who has an opinion about me that matters is my Lord. My husband said to me the just other day that I needed to stop worrying about what other people thought of our lack of manicured lawns, because it did not matter. He is right, (don’t tell him I said that!) I should not care what people think, but after he said that I started to think about those other people I am so worried about. I agree that we should not care what other people think about us, but shouldn’t we care what other people think about Christ in us?
                Over and over again I hear people say that they don’t go to church because it is full of hypocrites. My children have said it to me, family members have said to me that the church is full of hypocrites and they refuse to go. My response to all those statements is that it is true; we are hypocrites, but then again, aren’t they as well? Instead of complaining about how hypocritical we are, why don’t they just come join us? But then doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of what we are called to do as Christians? When did it become okay to be a hypocrite for Christ? When did it become okay to say one thing but to do another? When did it become okay to be a bad witness for Christ? When did we stop caring about what others think about Jesus through us?
                “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
                Paul, throughout many of his epistles encourages us to not only be a talking witness but a walking witness for Christ. We are not to go around hoping to make others like us, or see our good. Our sole purpose as Christians is to make others see Christ and His good through us. It doesn’t matter what other people think about us, but I think we need to start caring what they think about Christ because of us.
                “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’  has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
                My daughter said to me that day that if people could not like her for who she was then she did not want them as friends. As I said before, I admire her boldness and I need that same kind of boldness in my daily Christian life. God did not call us to be liked or accepted by the world. In fact, He tells us that the world is going to hate us. But not because of whom we are, but because of whom He is. We were called to be vessels used by God to shine forth the light of His glorious grace to a lost and broken world. It is not what people say about us that matters, it is what they say about Christ because of us that matters.
    For instance, I own a pet care company and on my care is our logo, phone number and the name of our company. As I drive around town I am proclaiming to everyone who sees my car that I am Peppy Pets, LLC. But, unfortunately, I am an aggressive driver. It is true- I am a speeder who hates going the speed limit. I have no trouble driving if people would just get out of my way. But having the world know that I am Peppy Pets has made me think more carefully about how I drive. I mean, would you want to hire someone who rode your bumper and honked at you while they sped past you doing 65 in a 45? Probably not.
                The same is true of our Christian walks. We are proclaiming to the world that we are His, yet we ride the bumpers of others, honk at them and yell at them to get out of the way as we pass them by. God our Father has given us the most precious treasure ever known to man. He has given us the treasure of His glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have the light of His glorious gospel of grace living in us, yet we seem to not care if people see us rather than Him. We care more about what they might think of us when what we should be focused on is what they think of Him.

                This life we have been given is not ours to live. We were bought with a price, and we are not our own. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Believe it or not every day you are portraying an image, you are advertising to someone that you are a Christian. The question we must ask ourselves is whether it is a good advertisement or a bad one. We shouldn’t care what others think about us, but we should care what they think of Christ because of us. Amen?