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05 January 2009

Letting Our Hair Down

Not too long ago, a friend e-mailed me that she'd seen a church's sign that said something like, "A child of the King should bear some family resemblance." She followed with some general questions about what that could and should mean.

If someone doesn't know you at all but sees you in the produce section of the grocery store, for instance, is there anything that should tell them you're a Christ-follower? I think that this concept is what inspires Christian clothing, jewelry, etc. (and can often become a substitute for living out the things that we say we believe).

Of course, there are things that could tell someone at a glance you're not a Christ-follower. Screaming at someone (no matter how justified you feel it is), arguing, swearing, rolling your eyes at an inefficient store employee, and outward things like that. This list can be huge.

But that wasn't the question. Is there anything that can tell someone at a glance that you are a for-real Christ-follower? Or is the showing of our allegiance and devotion to Christ best done in inter-personal relationships? If so (and that's what I'd say is most often the case), how are your inter-personal relationships coming? Are your interactions with friends showing them that you're quite serious about what you believe and that you love God with everything you've got, or are those the relationships where you're able to let your proverbial hair down and vent about things that annoy you?

Isn't it funny like that? If we identify someone as a "fellow Christian," we're more apt to think that they'll understand the things about us that aren't Christ-like... that they'll understand why the pastor annoys us with those silly illustrations, why it's so dumb to sing a repetitive song in church, or why it's unbelievable that the heat isn't working in the Sunday School classroom (I mean, we pay tithes for stuff like this, darn it!).

That kind of thinking and action (the action of sharing it with someone) nourishes and more fully develops a non-Christ-like attitude. Crazy. And not allowed for a Christ-follower.

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples." - Jesus, in John 13:35 (NLT)


Christy said...

Inner struggles, inner struggles. I KNOW this is right on, but part of me FEELS that I will never be able to overcome every day negativity, so why bother. Know what I mean? I'm almost finished reading Mere Christianity, and boy, is there some great, thought-provoking stuff in there. Something that I've been chewing on lately from that book is in the chapter "Beyond Personality" where Lewis says, "We may be content to remain what we call 'ordinary people': but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility; it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience". WOW! and OUCH! I don't know if I'm too hard on myself at times, or not hard enough. I guess you could say that I fall back on Paul's confession that he didn't always do what he knew he should, and vice versa. Is that a cop-out? Can we REALLY be holy this side of heaven? If we hold back on our negativity, will we morph into a better, more holy person, or will we only be letting it all build up inside? My mind tells me that I'll never measure up, but my spirit tells me that God wouldn't command me to do something that wasn't possible (be holy, for I am holy). That's why I began my comment with "inner struggles". Hope this makes sense to somebody.

Preston N said...

Dean - Happy New Year BTW. Your not suggesting that our "works" as Christ followers actually matter are you? :)

As for Christies comments here is something to ponder. Your indeed correct to think and believe that God would never expect the impossible from you. For me this is where so many tend to misunderstand the importance of God's moral law. God's laws are never impossible to keep for if they were they would be "bad laws". Both David and Paul summed up God's moral law as the "Law of Love". The problem we tend to get into is when we try to keep those laws externally, rather internally.

Think of it this way. The mind is influenced by one's motives. Motive therefore implies knowledge. All moral beings must learn by their experiences. When a person truly experiences (or comes to a full knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done for us AND what we have done to God) it is through the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ when our motive for living can and must change. The battlefield for the soul is the mind. Paul makes much reference to this in Romans 8, particularly Romans 8:5-10. Note how much Paul's mentions the "mind" in these verses.

Anonymous said...

I think there are times we need to "vent" to a friend about things that are troubling us. If we are doing it to get something out and seek "wise counsel", that is. Because if you hold such concerns in, it nourishes bitterness. And I think bitterness is much harder to overcome than "expressing" your feelings to a friend to gain perspective.

We are emotional creatures. Sometimes those emotions need to be released. HOW, WHERE, and to WHOM we do it is where we need to watch our step.


Anonymous said...

When I look back on my time in the military I hated GI parties (For those who never served - a GI party spring cleaning for an umpcoming inspection) There were too many times our commanders were more interested in looking good than being good; in fact it is ingrained into the very fabric of military life - If you looked sharp - you were sharp and got promoted; it didn't matter if they could do their job or not. (Sounds like bitter grapes)

I feel this may be the intent of your blog - What does a Christian Look Like?

Does he look sharp, dress properly, is his hair combed? What kind of car does he drive?

Or to look a little closer; does he teach bible study, serves as a deacon/pastor; does he tithe, give to the poor, is he nice?...

If you didn't hear my testimony last Sunday - I just described my self - a hypocrite. Oh, I looked good, or so I thought... But I didn't care for people - I didn't love them or pray for them; I just looked good.

When I look back and evaluate the people I met in the past, people that really touched my heart. What was it about them that made such an impression? It was the kindness when I was depressed; it was the touch when I was lonely; it was quietly listening to my issues...

It is not how many bible studies they led, how many verses they remember, how many cantatas they sang in. What is remembered is how God's love shines through them(me), if they would only let Him.

I truely believe that too many Christians are more concerned with looking like a Christian than loving God.

To your initial question; Could someone tell I'm a Christian at a glance? I personally put that in God's hands...


Dean Lusk said...

Good comments all around. Thanks! Good to be back to the blogging world. Was really sporadic there for a while.

Christy asked, "Can we really be holy this side of heaven?" The answer is a definite, "Yes!" And I think Preston made a great follow-up in saying that we tend to try to keep the "law" externally rather than internally.

LtE, I agree to some extent, but that's dangerous ground -- I know from experience. Often we'll turn to a friend not even to express frustration, but just to ask advice, and then we find ourselves slandering someone. (I think I'm going to post something about that next.)

Keo said that "too many Christians are more concerned with looking like a Christian than loving God." This is where I start to rather dislike the word "Christian," because I believe it's become a label that often means to the world, "person who thinks he is better than you."

Gets back to the the intent thing that Preston mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Dean, I agree. It is very dangerous ground. Motive (as Preston said) and heart is probably a much better way to say what meant by "HOW, WHERE, and to WHOM we do it..."


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