In the western world, there has been an increase in immorality. Across America and the United Kingdom, there is an ever-increasing acceptance of homosexual marriages, abortions, and senseless violence. In the midst of all of this, the church of Christ has been charged with being intolerant, boring, and irrelevant. How should pastors and followers of Christ respond to these accusations and become a beacon to a lost and dying world? To answer these questions, we must take a look at God’s Word and ask ourselves; what kind of people are we ought to be.
Why does this matter? If you were to talk to people that profess the name of Christ, you will see that many do not act any differently from those that are not professing Christians. This is why those seeking Christianity find it is no different from the world. Brennan Manning writes, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” If we ever desire to see the Gospel advance in our neighborhoods, schools, governments, and communities, we need to change and it starts with us.
One of the first characteristics of being a light to a lost world is putting sin to death. Colossians 3 says this; “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” Mortification of sin ought to be the duty of every person who professes the name of Christ. The Apostle John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”(1 John 1:7-10) This is very important because when we go about our normal business in the world, people are watching. We need to be genuine in our walk and not just talking the talk.
A second characteristic of a vibrant, spirit-filled Christian is one who is gracious to those around him. Many times, the professing Christian shuns the person struggling with same-sex attraction, not reaching out to the one struggling with deep depression, or gossips about the girl who got pregnant out-of-wedlock. We grumble, complain, and slander those shepherding over us and never give a second thought about what the typical pastor really goes through. What we ought to be is a refuge for the weary and burden. Colossians 3 says, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” What a difference it would make if Christians heed those words. When people love and gracious towards one another, the world will take notice.
The third characteristic of a Christian is one who is thankful. Because Christ died for us, we should be the most grateful people around. Lets say you were thrown into prison for a felony and sentenced to life unless you pay a million dollars. One day, the prison guards open the jail doors and escorted out of the prison facilities saying, “you are free. Someone came and paid the million dollars on your behalf.” How would you feel towards that person? That is what Jesus did at the Cross. He paid a penalty you cannot pay on your own. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” When we have that attitude, we recognize that God is the giver of every good thing and have what you do not deserve. Let us give thanks to God for what we do have and not grumble about what we do not have.
In closing, we ought to be a people that are genuine, gracious, and grateful. You were bought with great price you cannot pay. Live the way Jesus lived.