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12 March 2008

What Difference?

Speaking of clothing (in my previous post), I remember a time early in my new life in Christ at which I was very deliberate about not acting and appearing to be totally different from people who weren't Christ-followers. I guess I thought that I needed to prove to them that it was "cool" to be a Christian: "Hey, 'normal' people can be Christians, too! No need to stop having fun!"

In retrospect, although there may have been bits of truth in what I wanted to project, this was pretty dumb for me to have done. I'm not suggesting that we all should dress like preachers (not that there's anything inherently bad about that) or go around acting like we're on some other cerebral, spiritual plane of existence. Rather, I am stating that our new life and new identity in Christ should be readily visible to all, not by showing off about what we don't do or what we do do (I think this is the second time I've used that very juvenile homophone), but in allowing ourselves to be defined by Christ living in us.

I believe my biggest concern as a church leader is the fact that our churches may not be filled with Christians. This is rarely said by leaders in the church because they don't want to offend church members. I can fully understand that sentiment. I don't want to push anyone away from the possibility of growing in Christ, or to project the dreaded "holier-than-thou" persona. However, I do want members of the organized church, whether it is my particular fellowship or the one down the road, or the other one down the road, or the other one down the road (and on and on), to ask themselves why it is that they attend church. The answer to that question, if really considered, will lead to a decision for the individual: to keep going through the motions or to begin or continue living out what they professes to believe.

I realized a while back that I cannot size someone up by their attendance at every church service, nor can I triangulate their spiritual condition or walk with Christ by the look on their face or whether or not they participate vocally in congregational singing on Sunday mornings. For that reason, I have no particular person in mind as I write this.

It was noted in the comments a month or two ago that if our church fellowships were filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, there would be visible, positive changes in our communities. That comment struck me forcibly.

Are we seeing this difference in real life in areas heavily populated by church buildings -- reductions in crime, poverty levels, teen and out-of-wedlock pregnancies, etc.? Should we be seeing this in real life, and are these things, indeed, a measuring tool for the depth of our walk with Christ as His Church?

(Today's "Spot the Differences" puzzle can be found in full-size version at www.allstarpuzzles.com)

2 comments:

Leroy said...

Good post. I make every effort to live what I believe. But one thing I have to be careful about is not projecting my views on someone else. And likewise not thinking "less" of them if they don't think like I do. Regardless of how wrong they are. :)

Preston N said...

Many may claim that the world is just too corrupted by sin for God to have the ability to decrease the moral suffering that is occuring in the world today. But history has shown that when the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts and lives off men there is a noticeable change in the morality of certain generations.

History shows several significant events that radically changed the face of this nation and Europe. During both the First & Second Great Awakening several moral issues were taken to task - not by the secularist of their day but by Christians. Many are unaware that the slave trade was abolished by none other than Christians - vast amounts of Christians. In Europe the First Great Awakening is said to have influenced William Wilberforce who helped overturn slavery in England.

Not to mention the impact the Great Awakenings had on political or social issues such as temperance or prison reform. Clearly when God moved during these periods - peoples lives also visibly changed and they lived in holiness. The issue I see today, is the vast proclomation that God is at work in peoples lives, but yet the immorality and moral suffering continues to grow at horrific rates. So what is difference between today and Great Awakenings? I would suggest the key lies in with our thinking, but that's a whole other post.

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