DayBreaks for 1/18/17: You Christians
Note: Galen is traveling this week so he’s recycling some old DayBreaks.
FROM THE DAYBREAKS ARCHIVE, January, 2007:
As Christians, we talk the language of faith rather easily. It spills from our lips without much effort. Sprinkle in a few “praise God’s”, add some fancy terms like redemption, forgiveness, repentance, being “born again”, and we’re quickly in the realm of Christian-ese. The computer business has its own language, as does nearly every discipline in the world. What is so sad about that is that the “inside language” only communicates to those who are already “inside”. Our words, quite honestly, are easy and cheap. Our Christian life, a true Christian life, is not easy at all, but hard. Maybe that’s why Jesus suggested it involves a cross.
A 23-year old woman from the University of Paris was doing graduate work when she wrote this rather stinging critique of Christians: “To me a Christian is either a man who lives in Christ or a phony. You Christians do not appreciate that it is on this – the almost external testimony that you give of God – that we judge you. You ought to radiate Christ. Your faith ought to flow out to us like a river of life. You ought to infect us with a love for him. It is then that God who was impossible becomes possible for the atheist and for those of us whose faith is wavering. We cannot help being struck, upset, and confused by a Christian who is truly Christ-like. And we do not forgive him when he fails to be.”
Ouch, ouch, ouch! That hurts. Why does it hurt so? Perhaps because as we read it, we recognize our own failure to radiate Christ. How much of a river of life flows out from you, from me? Or is what flows out from us more closely akin to what flows out of a sewer or gutter? When is the last time I’ve infected anyone with a love for Christ? When is the last time you have personally felt truly infected by love for Jesus?
Why is it that we, the church (especially in America), struggle to see people won to Christ? Could it be because we aren’t infected with love for Him? That we love our comforts, easy chairs, padded pews, pleasures and platitudes more than we love Jesus? It reminds me of one of the letters to the churches in Revelation – the church that was full of good works, but which had lost its first love. If there were one letter of the seven in Revelation that I believe Jesus would send to the churches (and Christians) of America (including me!), it might be that one.
In countries where life isn’t so great and there isn’t much to love about life at all, people love Jesus – and people are won to Christ by the thousands, finding in him the love and hope that assuages their hunger and loneliness. The world longs to find the answer to the great questions of life, and they hope, they really do, that we can help them find the answer. But when we fail to do so, “we do not forgive him when he fails…”.
Christ, and those who follow him, should cause unbelievers to be struck, upset and confused. Jesus had that impact on the people of his day. And if he lives in us, we will have that impact of the people of our day. The extent that we don’t have that effect may be the most telling sign that Jesus is not the center of our life – and may not even be within us at all.
PRAYER: For our failures to be reflections of Your love and grace, for our weak love for Your son, Jesus, we ask your forgiveness. Infect us afresh with a love for Him that will cause us to confound and confuse those who greet us because we have become like our Master. Help our “external testimony”, the evidence of a life lived in and by the Spirit, be an honor to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.