Can you be easily identified as a Christian by your fellow congregational members in the pew on Sunday morning? Most would answer yes to that question. The idea that there are some who might respond with a “no” is a topic for another day. But yeah, your fellow parishioners look on you most likely as if you’re a Christian in the traditional sense. Do they not?
How about we modify that question a little bit and ask it again? Can your fellow congregational members identify you as Christian at any given time throughout the week? How about we modify the question one last time into this: “Does the public identify you as Christian at any and every given moment?”
The reality we’ve come to inhabit is one we’re probably none too proud of when we dissect it properly. There is an inherent behavior for many of us on Sunday morning. We’re a little kinder and more gentle. We tend to be a bit more earnest. Additionally, we trend towards truth on Sunday mornings. I think you could say many of us put on the best version of ourselves when we join our church family for Sunday Service. But what about the rest of week?
I submit to you that if you took a cross section of the public that “knows of” me, far too many would be surprised to learn I’m a self-proclaimed Christian. I can hear it. I can visualize. I can imagine the conversation between and man and woman going something like this:
“Hey, do you know that guy?” as the lady points across the street towards me. The man answers, “Yeah, I know Michael. He invited me to his church a couple times.” “He’s a Christian?” the lady responds. “I wouldn’t have guessed it…”
The above is my burden. And I’ll bear it for the rest of my living days. …And for good reason. I earned it. I don’t consider myself a ruthless thug or a drug dealing miscreant. But I’ve acted, knowingly, in such a low light from time to time it wouldn’t surprise me to believe many people don’t think much of me. I sometimes wonder if there is a way to circle back with the people I wasn’t appropriate to, and possibly show them what I’d prefer they see. Or maybe just offer an apology and seek forgiveness for not being decent or kind or understanding when I could have. The reality is less idealistic unfortunately. There’s not much way for me to undo what I’ve already done poorly. Only one possibility exists, and that’s approach daily living according to Him.
A bell rung, can’t be unrung. Rather, I can carry myself in such a way that no longer calls into question my Christianity, but proves it. I want to be easily identifiable as Christian. In my thinking this is as much about Faith & Works combined as anything – that is some of my favorite stuff in James 2 by the way. I need to be biblically astute first and foremost. Secondly, I wish to behave in such a way that others recognize it. …And not for my glorification, but His. I’m transformed through Him and I would like for people to see it. I want them to feel it and hear it.
I would never knowingly provide you something I knew to be false. So I offer the quotation commonly attributed to Francis of Assisi with the asterisk, that it is contended highly in many circles whether this stemmed from his collective works and speech, or he directly uttered these words. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary use words.”
Regardless of whether Francis stood in front of many, and called on those he sought to lead by quiet example, I can’t know for sure. The idea made of quickly and easily conveying to others that your honor, humility, grace, and obedience are attributed directly to your walk with God, is wholly appealing and should be my goal. As it should be yours. I realize this is a simplistic and somewhat sophomoric approach on the surface to some. But I encourage you to avoid the complexities when you can. Let this thought permeate you and consider it. We should be living on Monday through Saturday in the same ways we portray ourselves on Sunday morning.
I’d love to become more easily identifiable as a Christian. I guess that’s what God has in mind for the rest of my life. I’m also guessing God has something eerily similar planned for you. What are we waiting for?
Be salt and light my friends. Please.