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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How Are We Christians Perceived by the Culture?

Do you ever think about how non-Christians perceive Christians? I do, and you probably do too. The Bible instructs us to lead a life that is blameless and pure so that we may be perceived as God’s faultless children who shine like stars in the universe (see Philippians 2:14, 15). That tall order sets our behavioral standard high, but we dare not lower it if we want our unbelieving contemporaries to respect our testimony and receive God’s Word (v. 16).

The New Testament contains many exhortations similar to the one found in Philippians 2:14 and 15, but does the testimony of most Christians and evangelical churches conform to those exhortations? If it did, might many non-Christians change their perception of us from negative to positive? I may be wrong, but I think we are identified mainly as a right-wing conservative group more concerned about the White House than the Father’s House and more fully armed with ad hominem political arguments than persuasive appeals. At times our rhetoric is insulting, and the claim to love our neighbor as ourselves seems as hollow as a dead tree.

Sure, we want a man with moral character, wisdom, and love of God and country to lead the nation, and we want “one nation under God” to stay in the Pledge of Allegiance, but let’s not substitute political zeal for personal righteousness. Political victories may gain and secure freedom from tyranny, but personal righteousness may persuade others to believe on Christ who gives freedom from Satan, sin, and death. Political freedom may last a lifetime, but spiritual freedom lasts for eternity.

The public’s perception of us will not change if we order our lives by the “almighty dollar” instead of by Almighty God.” If we cheat or engage in dishonesty to save a dollar or two, why would anyone want to become a Christian? If our home life resembles a battleground, why would our neighbors believe we have what they need? If our children turn out bad, why would anyone believe we know how to guide our nation’s steps? If our churches split or as cold as a below-zero January night, why would anyone on the outside want to join those on the inside?

Please don’t misinterpret my remarks. I am not advocating political liberalism; I am advocating a biblical set of priorities. God calls us to be lights in the world, not bullhorns. Let’s stick to our political convictions and express them with grace, but let’s make it our top priority to lead a Christlike life and hold forth the word of life.