To be a voice for another

ambassador

Jesus stated that John the Baptist was the greatest man to ever live.  Jesus considered him greater than Moses, Abraham, any of the patriarchs or people we typically associate with Old Testament greatness:

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

– Matt 11.11

God Himself, in the human form of Jesus Christ, declared John the Baptist to be the greatest.  This is remarkable.  Especially considering we have such a small knowledge of his life and ministry!  Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, Paul wrote much of the New Testament, Abraham’s life is detailed through nearly every stage, but the story of John the Baptist is primarily wrapped up in his singular purpose:  to be the witness.

The Old Testament promised a prophet who would come before the Messiah and “make straight the path for the Lord” (Is 40.3).  As the Jews were awaiting the Messiah whom they believed would come and rescue them from the bondage of the Roman Empire, they were looking for this prophet.  Many believe that this would be Elijah, in fulfillment of a prophecy in Malachi:

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

– Mal 4.5-6

The Jews knew that Elijah had not died, and thus they were expecting the physical reincarnation of Elijah.  Thus, when they questioned John as to his identity, John proclaimed that he was not the reincarnation of Elijah, but Jesus stated that John was indeed fulfilling the role that they were expecting of Elijah:  the fore-runner prophet declaring Jesus’ coming:

“And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.”

– Matt 11.14

John’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus.  He was the prophet.  He was the “voice crying out in the wilderness” (Matt 3.3, Mark 1.3, Luke 3.4, John 1.23).  He had a dynamic ministry, he had disciples, and he led many people to repentance and baptized them back into the ways of the Lord.  But His ministry had one purpose:  to point to Jesus.  His personal witness was that he was the forerunner and after him was coming someone much greater:

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”

– John 1.15

“It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

– John 1.27

And perhaps his most well known statement is the humble observation:

He must increase, but I must decrease.”

– John 3.30

John existed to point people to Jesus.  He was “a voice crying out in the wilderness”.  The interesting thing about a voice, however, is that it is nothing in and of itself.  It belongs to someone.  It is the tool of someone.  It is a means by which someone communicates and makes a point.  A voice is only valuable as the user deems to utilize it.  John was the voice proclaiming the truths of God.  God was utilizing John and speaking through him, and John knew it.  He sought no glory for himself but fully and regularly pointed people back to Jesus.  And in doing so, Jesus declared him to be the greatest man ever born of a woman.

What can we learn from this remarkable example of John?

It has become very trendy to encourage people to become the voice for those who have no voice:  the homeless, the orphans, the unborn children, etc.  Non-profits and humanitarian organizations are continually seeking to raise awareness for their causes, for the needs of people around the world, and they systematically do so by seeking out advocates and ambassadors.  They teach us that we can change the world by being the voice of someone in need.

Much greater than this ambition, however, is our calling to be ambassadors for Christ.  The Bible actually calls us that:

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

– 2 Cor 5.20

All of humanity has one, singular and massive need:  salvation.  Apart from Christ we have no life and we are condemned to an eternity in Hell.  This need is infinitely greater than food, water, clothing, shelter or anything else we consider a basic human need.  When we come to know Christ and are forgiven, we are given Spiritual life, we are saved from Hell, and we are appointed as voices to go out and tell everyone.  Thus we are ambassadors from God to the needy.  We can offer the hope that only He provides.

Unfortunately, often times our worlds center around us.  We can be selfish, we can be proud, and we can be lazy.  We can preach Gospels that bring the glory and attention back to ourselves and our efforts instead of bringing glory to Jesus and His wonderful grace.  We can be silent when the Holy Spirit within us is urging us to speak and proclaim the truth.  We can choose to lay around and watch TV rather than invest in our family, friends and neighbors.

John was the greatest voice to live.  He was completely committed, he spoke truth, and he pointed people to Jesus continually.  By making little of himself, he became great in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus says,

“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

– Matt 20.26-28

We can and should strive to be great in the Kingdom of God.  We can and should seek to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven.  And we do this by dying to ourselves, serving others, and being a faithful witness for God to the world.  Let’s be the voice He has called us to be.  Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us and give us the words as we need them.  Let’s be more like John, giving all of the glory and honor to Jesus Christ alone.

Forgetting what lies behind.

future

What is your background?  Do you think fondly of your life story to this point?  Or have you had a difficult past that has shaped you through struggles and pain?  Are you generally proud of your accomplishments and confident in your experiences?  Or are you ashamed of your past, your decisions and your life’s path?  Maybe you are somewhere in between, confident in your identity but embarrassed of that one story or those few years tucked in back there.

The root of both dispositions, when it impacts our personality and worldview, is pride.  Either was have the normal expression of pride which considers our thoughts, values and experiences as superior or we exemplify the victim and shame mentality which draws on pride saying “I deserved better” or “I should have known better”.  God gives us experiences and plans our lives very intentionally.  It is not wrong to remember fondly or to feel sorrow over the past, as long as we intentionally turn the glory and honor back to God.  We should praise God for the successes and we should cling to God for the strength and truth needed to repent from failures and sin.  Both responses rightly bring glory to God.  Anything else robs God of His glory and brings praise or attention to ourselves.

The Apostle Paul, arguably the most influential man in Christianity after Jesus, wrote poignantly on the subject.  Before his conversion, Paul was the shining example of Jewish religiousity and legalism.  Not only did he keep the rules and preform above and beyond his peers, he also had the pedigree which set him apart from birth.  He had everything going for him.  He knew it, and everyone else knew it.  Then Jesus radically transformed his life.  He literally knocked him off his horse, called him to repentance and salvation verbally, and blinded him for a few days to consider Jesus’ power and calling.  After his sight was restored and he was baptized, Paul went away to the wilderness for three years where Jesus and the Holy Spirit personally taught Paul and prepared him to be the first missionary to the non-Jewish world.

After years of successful ministry and disciple-making throughout the known world, Paul wrote this in a letter to one of the churches he founded, in regards to his personal past:

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

– Phil 3.8-14

Paul consistently shared his testimony of conversion and church planting.  This is, in fact, how we know so much about him:  he wrote it in his letters which are much of the New Testament!  He had achieved unmatched success and position in the Jewish world before Christ, and after his conversion he almost single-handedly planted churches throughout the entire known world.  At the point of his conversion, Jesus revealed to him that his efforts were in deed persecuting and hurting the Church and Jesus personally, and his life was radically transformed – such that he became just like those whom he sought to kill.  Thus, he had reason to boast in himself, he also had reason to be ashamed of himself, and he had reason to boast in his accomplishments for the Church.

His response, however, was to give glory to God for that path down which he had walked, but to always look forward to eternity with Jesus.  His focus was so eternal, in fact, that he essentially “forgot” what was behind him.  He did not literally forget, obviously, but he considered it to be of no consequence to where he was going.  It did not define him, hinder him, or give him grounds for boasting.  He was focused only on Jesus, on becoming more like Him and striving after the goal of eternity with Him.

This is perhaps the greatest example of true humility.  Often times we consider humility to be when a person thinks less of himself than his value, thus the truest opposite of pride would be some form of self doubt or self hatred.  But in reality, Biblical humility is spending one’s efforts to focus on God and not one’s self.  It is not thinking less of one’s value but spending less time thinking about one’s self and thinking more about God and others.

We can also learn from Paul’s example that no matter where we are in life we should always be looking forward and pressing on to maturity and growth.  It is easy to become complacent.  It is easy to allow ourselves to think that we deserve a break from work, ministry or discipline once we reach certain mile markers in life.  But God never gives us a pass.  God does not allow our Spiritual growth to reach its fullest potential until we are freed from our physical bodies and in His presence, thus even if we are retired or confined to a bed, we can still grow in our prayer life, in our witness, in our knowledge of God and in our devotion to Him.

Let us leave it to those who write our eulogy to determine our greatest moments and achievements.  Let us never consider our past to be our glory days, nor our moments of shame.  Let us continually look forward to the prize, to the goal of eternity with Christ and let us forget what lies behind.  We should always remember what God has done and the victories He has won, but let us always be expectant of His miraculous movement yet to come.  Let us remember the sin from which He has freed us and because of it press on to greater maturity and more intimate fellowship with Him.  Let us remember the trials through which He has brought us, but let us continue to seek to die to ourselves and let Him live through us more.

If you cannot believe.

spurgeon

“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.”

– Is 45.22

Salvation and Spiritual life are at times difficult topics to explain.  In today’s American Christianity, many church-goers grew up in the church and became Christians when they were young.  Before the age of 10 kind of young.  How much do you remember from those years?  If you have had Spiritual life 45 out of your 52 years, it might be difficult to remember what Spiritual deadness was like.  In fact, you might wonder if you even have it!  Others can wrestle with what exactly saving faith is.  There might be an intellectual assent and affirmation of the Gospel but not a trust and awe that is part of faith.  Such a one was Charles Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest preacher of the 19th century.  Below is his own account of his salvation account.  (The date was Jan 6, 1850 and Spurgeon was 15 years old at the time.)

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. . . . The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. . . . He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth [Isaiah 45:22].”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.

“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me’. . . . Many of ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. Ye will never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the father. No, look to him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some of ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ and great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I dare say, with so few present he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”

Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a primitive Methodists could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” What a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could have almost looked my eyes away.

There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to him. . . . And now I can say—

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And Shall be till I die.

– C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume 1, 87-88

Everyone Is An Expert.

einstein

On Monday night, the news rocked the United States the comedian Robin Williams had committed suicide by hanging himself.  Almost immediately the blog posts, the “authoritative” articles on depression and addiction began to get passed around, and now we are in the phase of everyone getting mad at one another for their opinions.  Matt Walsh has received a lot of heat for stating that depression is not only chemical, but can be a spiritual issue too and consequently made a decision to kill himself – he is not a victim of an outside force, while others want to say that Williams was indeed a victim of an illness over which he had no control.

I will not chime in on the issue here.  I have written on suicide before, evaluating its damnable nature, and have studied under some of the most respected Biblical counselors in the world.  But what is grieving my spirit today is not the fact that the conversation is happening, but the nature of the conversation.

Consider a controversial topic:  suicide, depression, homosexuality, gender roles in marriage, divorce, remarriage, atheism, whatever.  Then go to your facebook page, where you can hide behind a screen and the solitude of your bedroom and write your opinion on the topic.  What will happen?  Immediately people will respond with their opinions, and that which they believe gives them authority on the topic is simply this:  “My best friend killed himself”, “My sister suffers from depression”, “I have lots of gay friends”, “My parents are divorced” or “My buddy lost his mom in a tragic car accident and his dad is now dying of cancer and he has no reason to trust God because his life has been so terrible”.

“I know someone who” has now become the benchmark for authority and grounds to speak to a topic.  Unless, of course, you yourself have walked through it.  If you struggle with depression, homosexuality or have been divorced then no one can assert authority over your experience.  Unless, perhaps, they have experienced it too.  We are all reactionary to the world news around us, and we choose to process it based on our own experience and we demand that others listen to our opinions because we are so wise.

We are once again back to the conversation of absolute truth.  A philosopher will read my blog and say, “She is doing exactly what she is condemning”.  And in a way, yes, I am.  However, my opinion is that I am incapable of determining the absolutes on any of these topics and I choose to look to God to see what He determines as the absolute, the Truth.  I submit to an authority higher than myself.

If we can agree to allow the Bible to be our authority then we have a starting point.  If you refuse the authority of God through the proclamation of His Truths through the Bible, then no common ground for conversation can be established.  We will argue the nature of man; does he have a soul?  Is there an eternity?  Is there morality?  And if so, how do we define it?  These conversations are impossible without an agreed authority.  Even if we happen to have a similar morality, we will differ on topics, nuances or preferences.

FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORDS, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.

 – 1 Cor 10.26

Not only does the Earth belong to God, He created the laws of science, laws of nature, moral laws and structures for how we are to live.  Unfortunately, in evangelicalism today, we teach one another to shy away from that.  “No one can refute your testimony” we praise one another when training Christians to share the Gospel.  And while that is true, we must remember that the opposite is also true: we are incapable of refuting another’s story.  What about those who have learned to distrust God because things did not go how they wanted?  What about those who have experienced evil spirits?  What about those who have experienced miracles in false religions?  What about those who have witnessed the sinfulness of Christians and the church full of hypocrites?  What then?

No friends.  Your testimony is important.  But it is not the Gospel and it will not save anyone.  And your testimony cannot stand up as superior to another’s testimony of a false god.  Only the Word of God can do that.  Only the inspired Scriptures can, without a doubt, affirm that we are living a godly or sinful life.  Only God’s direction can determine if we know Him and are forgiven.  And since He is the author of human life, He gets to determine the morality of homosexuality, He gets to determine to cure for depression, He gets to exemplify Himself to the atheist, He alone is God.  And one day, that friend or sister or parent will kneel before Him with the rest of creation.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Phil 2.9-11

Has God done a mighty work in your life?  Do you have a friend who suffers from depression or has committed suicide?  Are your parents divorced?  Or is your buddy homosexual?  That person is not the authority on the topic.  You may not dictate how culture handles the topic just because you know someone walking through it.  God has written the book on each topic.  Literally.  And He has the say.  And whomever is living in rebellion of what He has said about it will give an account for it one day.  So whose side do you want to be on?  The judge’s?  Or the defendant’s?

Let’s get over ourselves.  Let’s get over our “experiences”, and let’s learn to evaluate our experiences against the heart of God – which we can only know and learn through the Word of God, the Bible.  Share your testimony, but lace it with Scripture, and remember that your testimony is fallible, but God’s Word is not.

Should we share our testimonies?

rice

A young farmer was newly married with a young wife and brand new baby.  He had saved up for years to pay her dowry and was now blessed to have a level of security that he would be cared for when he grew old with a son to carry on the family name and work the farm.  One day he was out in the field.  He grew rice, which can be harvested three times per year, and that season had come once again.  Walking barefoot through the now dry paddy, he was bent over most of the day swinging his sickle to cut down fist fulls of rice stalks and tossing them onto the tarp where he would later beat free the grains of rice.

Sweating under the beating, tropical, midday sun, he swung his sickle for the hundredth time that day.  When he drew it back and stood up to throw the stalks, he saw that his sickle was covered in blood.  Startled and scared, he looked and in one swing he had beheaded two cobras.  Immediately his body began to contort and freeze such that he could not walk.  He was left mangled and paralyzed, lying in the rice paddy.

Other workers in the paddy saw him motionless on the ground and they ran over to see what had happened.  They saw the bloody sickle and the dead cobras and they knew immediately what had happened.  The spirits of the cobras were possessing and killing this young farmer.  They picked him up and carried him back to his house.  The next day, two calls were made: to the witch-doctor and the Imam.  The witch-doctor, an older man with a turban wrapped upon his head that stood three fight high entered the house and cast a spell of health over the farmer and infused his power ring with “good powers”.  Later the imam, the priest of the mosque, entered.  He, by the power of Allah, cast the demons of the snakes out of the man.  Immediately the man was healed and able to walk, talk and eat again.

I heard this testimony firsthand.  

From the moment I hit the 8th grade, I went to a Southern Baptist church that taught, encouraged and extolled evangelism.  Making disciples is, after all, the Great Commission!  Evangelism is simply telling the good news of Jesus Christ, offering salvation through faith and repentance.  Making disciples is telling non believers that story and when they come to faith, helping them to know and love God.

While learning to share the good news, I was often told, “Your testimony is your most powerful weapon.  No one can refute your testimony.”

This is very true.  No one can refute your testimony.  If Jesus Christ has come into your life, radically changed who you are and redeemed you from death to life, from sin to righteousness, this is a powerful story.  No one can tell you, “No, that did not really happen”.  It is your experience and your story.

But what would you say to this young farmer who accidentally killed two cobras, was possessed by the demons or spirits that accompanied these snakes, and was then set free by the Imam and who received power to survive from the witch doctor?

Our stories of redemption only have power because of the truth and power of Jesus Christ.  The enemy is alive and well, and he is preforming false signs all around the world to entrap people.  He mimics the power and acts of God in false religions.  There is a reason people believe false religions, and it is at least in part because the enemy causes it to look real!

In western culture, we elevate ourselves and our personal experiences to a level of authority.  We live for ourselves, we think mostly about ourselves and we expect our logic and reason to be the highest weight.  But the reality is that God is the highest authority.  His ways are not our ways (Is 55.8-9), He has revealed many things for us to know, but there are many hidden things that He has kept for Himself:

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

– Deut 29.29

And He has revealed to us everything that we need for life and godliness in the Scripture:  the Bible (2 Peter 1.3).

Our stories have power.  

But they have no authority.  

Everything that we say and do must be tested against Scripture.  Let us be like the Bereans who were praised because they:

“…were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

– Acts 17.11

Please.  Tell your story.  Examine your life and know your walk with the Lord so intimately that you can and do regularly account the things that He is doing in your life.  This is part of your dynamic and saving relationship with Him.  It will encourage other believers in their walks and it will make personal the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

But let us examine our lives and make sure that the things we believe and the things we are experiencing truly are of God.  The enemy’s greatest weapon is false Christianity.  If he can convince us that we are saved when we truly are not, he has neutralized a threat and secured for himself another victory in eternity.  And let us always proclaim scripture as the key and core of evangelism.  Let us weave verses in and out of our testimonies.  Let us make clear the Scriptures while we account how these Scriptures have dynamically changed our lives.  Let us elevate and glorify God and His word, not ourselves and our word.

That does not belong here.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  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.

– 1 Peter 2.11-12

I like to run.  I live in the city, not in a subdivision but amongst older homes organized into neighborhoods in the more traditional sense, and I run on sidewalks and running paths the vein the city of Denver.  I live in a cute community, older homes that are well kept and fun to look at for their variety.  But there is one house that I pass on a regular basis that just does not fit in.  And it is not the house, but it is the fact that they use the small plot of ground between the sidewalk and the street to grow corn.  Yes, corn.

DSC_0428

I grew up in the country and we always had a large garden.  My roommate keeps vegetables on the side of the house, but this stands out!  It simply doesn’t belong there.

Yesterday I was reflecting on our responsibility to share the truth boldly and verbally as part of who we are:  aliens.  We are to be in the world but not of the world.  We know when something does not belong.  Corn does not belong on a city street.  Do people know that you do not belong in the world?  Can someone observe you and know that the Earth is not our home (Heb 13.14)?

I think that we hear this general instruction a lot, but little help is offered as to what exactly that means.  Do we create a new monastery where we wear robes, sing chants and remove ourselves from daily interaction with the world?  Do we start making our own clothes, stop using electricity and focus on dominating the Earth?  Do we, as one tribe I know of in the world, reject all forms of social structure including clothing, education and buildings in order to live as closely as possible to the way in which Adam and Eve lived when God created them?

“What we must do is to outdo the world in honesty, kindness, gentleness, usefulness, moderation of spirit, charity, compassion and readiness to help others in their need.”

– John Owen

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.  And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

– 1 Peter 3.14-16

I love the fulness of the picture that Peter paints for us here in that we have hope in Jesus Christ and have been transformed.  Because of that transformation and separation from the world, we will be slandered or persecuted, and on the grounds of our response to our persecution – faith, hope and love – people will see that we truly are different and will ask about the hope.  When we answer about our hope with gentleness and reverence, those who slander or persecute us will be shamed because our hope is sincere and they proved unable to nullify our witness.

Were all Christians meek, quiet, peaceable, sober, self-controlled, humble, useful, kind, gentle, willing to listen to all, cheerful in trials and troubles, always ‘rejoicing in the Lord’, then the world would not take offense at them, but wonder how any could live without them, and so be won over to them, making every effort to be like them.  If honesty, sincerity and uprightness were seen among Christians on every occasion, how greatly it would glorify Christ!

– John Owen

How then do we show that we do not belong?  By exemplifying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, but loving as Christ loved, by preaching the Gospel at every occasion, and by maintaining our witness even in the midst of trials and tribulations.  They will know we are Christians by our love (John 13.35), and love never fails (1 Cor 13.8).  And we maintain this by not loving the things of the world, as we cannot love the things of the world and love God (1 John 2.15, Matt 6.24).  Let’s be the corn growing on the city street.