I work for a Christian NGO. My full time job is managing volunteers who come in to help us sort, inventory and package donated product that we ship around the world for community development and disaster response. We are big enough and offer enough volunteering opportunities that many non-Christian groups will come to volunteer, many having heard of us but unaware that we are in fact Christians. The most beautiful part about my job is that I get to share the Gospel with these volunteers before we get to work! I have had a variety of responses – believers are regularly excited and encouraged, I have led a few people to faith, and I have had some bawk at our faith. The normal responses, all in all. Last week I had a group of people in, and at the end of the shift a man in his mid to late forties caught me to chat. He asked if we were always open for volunteers and I told him our schedule. Then he stated,
“This is good. Even though you are Christians, you are doing a good thing and I will come back!”
Of course I giggled to myself and quickly told my friends from small group what he said, but then I began contemplating and wondering what could his life experiences have been that this was his first positive exposure to Christians? How could it be that he expected Christians to be doing not good things?
This reflection is cause for conviction on all levels. Am I personally impacting my immediate world by serving them for Christ? Is my Church actively involved in serving the community? Or do we just host a private party every week? Am I, are we, impacting the world? Are we behaving in such a way that people expect us to be wicked, unloving, or confrontational – just like the world?
We have been commanded to glorify God in everything that we do (1 Cor 10.31). Our primary drive and concern should be to do what pleases Him because we love Him. When we spend time with Him, our hearts become aligned with his and we enjoy to do the things which He commanded. We will not function in perfect love all the time, however. Thus God gives us other incentives to obey.
“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”
– 1 Peter 2.12-17
Out of love we obey God, and our obedience looks like excellence among non believers. This is an easy test: does our behavior look excellent to those around us? Or is it just normal? Acceptable? We should go above and beyond – and part of our motivation will be so that they will glorify God, and part of the motivation will be so that we can “silence the ignorance of foolish men”. Have you ever had someone lash out at you or watch you from a distance, expecting you to react like the world – and you shocked them by responding in love? Have you ever had someone lash out at you or watch you from a distance expecting you to react like the world and you did exactly that – tainting your witness?
We are free. God has forgiven us of our sins so that there is no longer any condemnation. But this is not validation to act however we want, it is freedom from the bondage of sin to obey God and glorify Him. We do not use our freedom as an opportunity for evil, rather we exemplify the love and grace that we have been shown to all around us, and in doing so we silence those who expect us to be wicked like the rest of the world.
Do you honor all people? Love the Church? Fear God? Honor the president/government? As we continue through this election season, particularly, let us be thoughtful and intentional with our words and actions. Let us honor all people, love the Church, fear God and honor the president. There are times that we honor the office and not the actions of the man or woman, but we must keep our behavior excellent among the world so that they will know God and glorify Him!