Living Before A Watching World

I had a conversation with an unbeliever tonight that pained me deeply (and for the record, this post fits nicely with Nathan Tiemeyer’s recent post regarding UnChristian). And it reminded me of a truth that none of us should ever forget: we live before a watching world.

At one point in Christian circles it was popular to talk about “maintaining your witness.” Whether you like that wording or not, we are, as people bearing the name of the Savior, responsible to represent God and Christ to those around us. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had the duty (it was not only a duty, but also a profound honor and privilege, of course) to represent God to the nations. This duty has now passed to us, the Church.

Ephesians 4:1-2 gives a framework for this principle:

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”

God is holy, so we strive for holiness. Christ is selfless and generous towards us, therefore we should be selfless and generous. God is gracious, forgiving, gentle, patient, etc., etc….and therefore we should walk worthy of this calling.

Which brings me back to the aforementioned conversation. This unbeliever that I talked with is a devout atheist. He has many reasons for being so. The Genesis account of creation coupled with science is one reason and he also doubts the Bible’s reliability. But there is a more bitter seed buried beneath these rational refutations of God. You see, this person was burned by Christians, and in many ways, by the Church. A youth pastor treated him horribly as a high schooler, making fun of his friends, and making snide remarks about cigarette smoking, partying, etc. He had parents who at times didn’t act graciously with him. He had numerous friends who arrogantly shunned him because of his lack of faith. He had Sunday School teachers and tutors insult his intelligence because he didn’t see God’s creation in nature.

And so, he told me tonight of a business dealing with a person, whom he named. In his dealings, my friend had decided that this man was “just a jerk.” Well, sure, we all deal with jerks every day, right? Yes, but the person that he was speaking of attends The Crossing, and my friend knows this. How is he supposed to think of Christ, and of The Crossing? If that’s the type of person that goes to our church, why would he ever give it a try? But, at the end of the day, representing The Crossing is of small significance. The part that saddened me the most, is that Christ, the living Savior of the world, was misrepresented. And this misrepresentation only reinforced a life full of similar occurrences for my friend.

So, just remember, if we proclaim Christ, people will be watching our daily lives. In today’s skeptical and cynical world especially, some will just be waiting for us to screw up. They’re waiting for a hypocritical act, a harsh word, a dishonest business deal. Just so they can point the finger and say, “see, those high-browed Christians are no different.” And at some level, of course, they’re correct. We’re not inherently better people, and thus, we should daily praise God for the grace he has shown us. And unfortunately, if people watch our lives, they will inevitably see in us a slew of unrighteous acts (fortunately, they can’t see our thoughts, or any appearance of holiness would probably fly right out the window). But, in spite of our constant failures, there must be something different about us. That’s what it means to be holy, that is what the process of sanctification does.

We must take the responsibility and the privilege of representing Christ seriously. When you’re at Wal-Mart, be gracious and kind to the employees. When you’re in your car, be courteous and patient. When you’re conducting some sort of business, remember Christ and consider how your actions reflect upon Him. When you’re in social situations or family gatherings, walk worthy. At every moment, remember that you are representing Christ to the world, and it will, fairly or not, judge the truth of Christ and the worthiness of the Church on how much of Christ they see in you.

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