When life gets messy.

High speed image of splashing milk

When God calls us to salvation, He places us perfectly within His body:  the Church.  We are all given strengths and abilities to help the church thrive, to maintain health, to reach the world and to make disciples.  The Church needs every member and every member needs the Church.

“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.  For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.  If they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now there are many members, but one body.”

– 1 Cor 12.12-20

This is the beautiful and unique form of community with which God has blessed the Church.  In short, we get in each other’s lives and we “do life” together.  But do you know what happens when you get in other people’s lives?  It gets messy.  No Christian has attained perfection and the fullest maturity until he is freed from his earthly body, and that means that people are going to be misunderstood, people are going to be offended, and there will be conflict.  Even within the Church.  ::gasp::  If you’re not getting messy, you are not doing it right.

But let us not despair about this fact.  This is actually our opportunity to first of all glorify God in how we respond.  If Jesus is our example, let us remember that He was the only person to walk the face of this Earth without sin, and He was despised, mocked, tortured and murdered.  He endured all of this without lashing out, but with forgiveness and grace, even praying for God to show forgiveness to those who were in the act of murdering Him.  Can you imagine?  We often times need space and time to cool our emotions, but Jesus, in the midst of His own murder, was able to show selflessness and mercy.  In the same way that He loved and forgave us, we must love and forgive one another.  Otherwise we elevate ourselves and our offense above what Jesus endured on the cross.

Secondly, this gives us an opportunity to grow in maturity.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

– James 1.2-3

I particularly love this passage out of James because he speaks directly to “various trials”, not simply persecution for the Gospel’s sake.  Various trials can be our cars breaking down, a difficult child, a tension at the church or persevering through an illness.  All of these various trials are tests of our faith.  How do we respond?  Do we get angry and selfish?  Or do we turn to God and die to ourselves?  Are we humble or are we proud?  When we persevere through the testing of our faith we achieve endurance.  And Romans tells us that,

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

– Rom 5.3-5

We will not have proven character until we persevere through the mess of relationships and come out victorious on the other side.  We will not have true, Biblical hope until we persevere through trials that test our faith.  If we do not persevere and glorify God by dying to ourselves and following Christ’s example in day-to-day trials, we will be tossed around like the waves of the sea and depend on our circumstances for happiness (James 1.6).

Thirdly, these situations give us an opportunity to express the Gospel to others in the Church and to a lost world.  We will all have conflict.  But consider this:  we are all familiar with the terrible and ongoing “worship war” that is present in many churches.  Everyone wants his own style of music.  For some the music is too loud, for some it is too soft, for some it is not played skillfully enough, and for some the style is just unbearable.  Consider a person who has never come to the church before and who has never heard hymns, contemporary praise, quartet or even Christian rock music.  Everything, to him, is new.  He can have two polar opposite experiences determined by the church-goer by whom he sits.  The church goer can have a bad attitude, choose not to sing, choose to be grumpy – or even wait in the foyer until the music is over before coming in.  The unsaved man will see nothing different from the world here.  What he knows and expects.  Nothing attractive.  And he will probably examine the music with the same mindset.  Now, imagine he sits next to someone who does not necessarily care for the style of music being played, but this person says in his heart, “I want God to be glorified by the music and in my heart.  I am going to sing whatever they choose to sing and praise God!”  He considers his neighbor who loves this music and can best express his heart to God through this style, and he prays, “God help my neighbor meet with you today, and I praise you that these songs are fostering his heart to praise you!”  The lost person will see this as a selfless and humble person who loves God and loves his neighbor, and will see something different.

If the world sees conflict between two believers, if the believers act like the world, then our witness is lost.  But if the believers humble themselves, put one another’s desires and needs above themselves, respect one another and forgive lavishly, then we demonstrate the love and forgiveness that we have been showed in Jesus.  Scripture teaches us that we only love because He loved us first (1 John 4.19).  And Scripture teaches us that we should love and forgive in the same degree by which we are loved and forgiven.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

– Col 3.12-13

Paul teaches us that our attitude towards one another should be, at the foundation, one of humility.  And based on that humility we bear with one another and forgive in the same manner that we have been forgiven.  What does that mean?  If you have come to Jesus for salvation, He has forgiven you of every offense you have ever committed and will ever commit.  In short, there is nothing that another person can do to you that would be worse than your offense against a holy God.  Therefore, if Jesus has forgiven you of everything, then we, by His example, must forgive every offense confessed towards us.

Paul knows, however, that this is not easy and that it goes against our sinful nature.  That is why every single letter that He wrote addressed the topic to some extent.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.  “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– Rom 12.9-21

So much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  This does not mean that you have to be buddy-buddy with everyone in the Church.  This also does not mean that you excuse and overlook sin.  Jesus gave us very clear instructions for how to handle a church member who is sinning (Matt 18.15-17), and Paul teaches us that when someone is in sin, we should lovingly restore him and help him fight the sin (Gal 6.1).  We should never overlook sin, but bring it to light and squash it before it takes a foothold in anyone’s life.  This is the truly loving thing to do, to push one another on to maturity and hope.

But humility follows the example of Christ and dies to one’s self.  Humility seeks to glorify God and His gospel by forgiving in the way that He forgave.  Humility serves the body and individuals in the likeness and manner of Christ (Phil 2.3-8).

Life will get messy.  It is in these moments that we must choose to put away our pride, we must choose to seek to glorify God by loving and forgiving as He has loved and forgiven.  We must long for the unity of the body by lifting one another up and resolving conflict, and this will show the world that we are Christians:  by our love (John 13.35).  It is easy to do service projects and humanitarian aid.  It is easy to look happy on Sunday mornings, but a dynamic witness to the world is Christians loving one another when they do not necessarily want to.

“For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.  For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

– 1 Peter 2.19-24

So let us approach community with a realist mindset, knowing that pouring into one another’s lives will bring conflict eventually.  People are people, they will let you down.  But let us embrace those opportunities to press into God, to press into one another, to grow in maturity, and to be a dynamic witness to a lost world.  Let us die to ourselves, put one another first, help one another fight sin in our lives, and thus sharpen one another and be what God intended the church to be:  a body.


The Church is Widely Unrecognizable

old church

Many would argue that the world has changed more in the last one hundred years than any other century.  The Industrial Revolution has led to a change in work habits, technology, luxuries, music, etc.  The rate of change is so quick that we now widely know and understand the “generational gap” as a thing.  Children in the west no longer spend most of their time with their parents learning life skills, but amongst their peers in school and age-segregated sports.  Parents are not cool, they “just don’t get it”, and this is an acceptable mindset.  Adolescence is degrading our maturation process.  And we have bought into the lie within our churches.

The churches I have attended throughout my life have been large enough that Sunday School was segregated by school grade level and gender.  The same ten girls and I were in Sunday School together for all four years of High School.  Girls a grade level ahead were so old, and girls a grade level behind were so young.  We had junior church for elementary aged kids, a middle school youth group and a high school youth group.  And for kids growing up, do you know where it climaxed?  That’s right, high school youth group.  They had the flashy lights, the funky stage, the fog machine, and the Juniors and Seniors played the newest Christian praise music in the band.  SO cool.

Then we went off to college and found campus ministries that offered the same thing.  The lights must be turned down to worship, the band has to play the songs we have come to know and love, the crowd must be full of our peers, and the message must be about dating, getting through school, or any other teenage/young adult need.

Then these kids grow up.  They look for a church that looks like what they have known, and it does not exist.  So they go out and gather up their friends and start a new church that looks like that.  This is no surprise, folks, it is what we have groomed our youngesters to want and expect from the day they graduated the nursery.

Consider the other side for a moment.  The baby-boomer generation widely grew up in the Church.  In the 50’s and 60’s, it was still the American culture that everyone went to Church.  It was the focal point of the community, and even if people did not have a relationship with Jesus, they went to church because “that’s just what you do”.  They had a piano and usually an organ, they sang out of a hymnal, and there was preaching.  Smaller congregations would have prayer requests and people went to church three times a week.

This baby boomer went off to college, was part of the love revolution, listened to hippy music, left the Church, but now is older and has started reading his Bible and wants to return to church.  So he shows up at First Baptist [your town] and the whole thing is a production for our entertainment.  He will not recognize the church.  And chances are high that he will not stay.

So what is the answer?

This is a problem that has taken years to nurture, and is a problem that will take years to fix.  The answer is the heart of the church-goer.  We must learn and teach the foundational reality that church is not about us.  Yes, it is a wonderful benefit that Church will meet our needs – Spiritual, physical, emotional – but the primary function of the Church, the primary purpose of the Sunday morning service, is to worship God.  The Bible does not give us an outline for what we should do in our worship service, other than exhortations like this:

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

– Col 3.16

And the beautiful preamble to this verse is:

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

– Col 3.12-14

When we gather as a body, we should sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs:  Scripture, old songs of the faith and new songs of the faith.  We should sing with hearts of thankfulness to God.  We should spend in the word, teaching and admonishing one another (this is usually done in the preaching section).  And we are commanded to do this all with a heart of love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  What does that mean?  Young person, you should set your needs and dispositions aside and seek to make sure that the older generation is ministered to and meets with the Lord.  Older person, you should set your needs and dispositions aside and make sure that the younger generation encounters the Lord.  Everyone:  go into Sunday worship ready to learn, worship, praise God and serve one another.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

– Phil 2.3-4

Everything must be tested against Scripture.  Does the music, does the teaching, does the prayer glorify and honor God?  If so, then consider the passions and desires of your neighbor as more important than your own.  And help the visitor and young believer to develop a sacrificial and giving heart as well.  Because we must not cater to one demographic or nonbelievers and thus develop in them expectations.  That is what got us in this mess in the first place.  But let us push one another on to love and good deeds:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

– Heb 10.23-25

Jesus says:

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– John 13.35

The church may not be recognizable to people as they walk through the doors.  The pews might be replaced by chairs.  The organ might have been traded in for a band, or the band might be traded in for a solitary piano!  The fog machines and mood lighting may not exist.  But those things are not how we are supposed to be recognized.  Let’s welcome the young person, the baby boomer, the unchurched and the traditionalist by our love and be recognized by our love.

Newsweek has dis-proven the validity of the Bible!


My family has been life-long Newsweek subscribers.  The latest edition is always in the bathroom off the living room for reading material.  As an adult, after moving back to the United States, I have continued the tradition.  And much to my amazement this week, the company has released their latest publication with the cover story attempting to discredit the Bible the very week after the entire nation (and much of the world) celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ!  What a way to bring in 2015, folks!

The catchy title reads, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin”, flaunting an authority of Biblical understanding and condemnation of Christianity today.  The satirical piece attacks Christians for not reading or understanding their Bibles, the Bible itself for having been translated and copied numerous times, and attempts to affirm Biblical inconsistencies within the Scriptures as we have them.

I am no Greek or Hebrew scholar, I studied the languages only to the extent required to receive a Master’s of Divinity.  I have never held the ancient texts in my hands or worked alongside archaeologists to determine the breadth of consistency within the oldest manuscripts.  I have, however, studied and marveled at the vast majority of ancient manuscripts that have been found and studied and the consistency therein.  It is not my intention to argue point-for-point with Kurt Eichenwald (for that would be a massive essay and a fool’s errand), but I would simply like to state the fact that people have sought to disprove and discredit the Bible and Biblical testimony since before it was compiled into a book, and that to no avail.  After Jesus had been raised from the dead and met with the women at the grave, this record is accounted in Matthew’s Gospel:

Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.  And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’  And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.”  And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

– Matt 28.11-15

There never was nor has been empirical proof to discredit the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  There never was nor has been empirical proof to discredit any of the Scripture, though it has been hunted for centuries.  Not only that, but our entire system of historical knowledge is based on ancient writings and artifacts that historians and archaeologists discover.  We write history books and understand the ancient world on tidbits of information gathered here and there.  We rely on parchments found in jars, and occasionally a headline will announce a discovery that completely changes how we understand history.

Josh McDowell writes,

“The history of Thucydides (460-400 BC) is available to us from only eight manuscripts dated about AD 900, almost thirteen hundred years after he wrote.  The manuscripts of the history of Herodotus are likewise late and scarce.  And yet, as F. F> Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, concludes, “No classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest manuscripts of their works which are of use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals.”
Aristotle wrote his poetics around 343 BC and yet the earliest copy we have is dated AD 1100 (a gap of almost fourteen hundred years), and only forty nine manuscripts exist.”

He continues to note text after text and author after author upon who we rely for our basic understanding of history – those which are never questioned by scholars for accuracy or authenticity.  If we trust Aristotle’s work to be true on 49 copies written over 1100 years after his death, why would we doubt the more than fifty six hundred (5600) Greek manuscripts of the Bible, some of which have been dated to within Jesus’ generation?!  These manuscripts are primary sources.

Jewish scholar Jacob Klausner said,

“If we had ancient sources like those in the Gospels for the history of Alexander or Caesar, we should not cast any doubt upon them whatsoever.”

An honest, journalistic study of the historical trustworthiness of the Scriptures leaves no room for discussion, if we believe any history that is documented for us and taught in grade school.

But the article was not written as a journalistic work.  It is an attack on Christianity.  And one of its foundational arguments is that the average Christian in the pew is not well-read, Biblically.  Is this true?  Possibly.  Probably.  But my ignorance, and yours does not disprove the validity of Scripture or Jesus’ work and intention to save sinners, nor does it discredit the legitimacy of the Scriptures.

The real issue here is the unashamed attack on Christianity.  We, once again, preach tolerance and slaughter those who disagree with us.  Newsweek magazine has attacked Christianity.  But we are guilty, too, dear Christian.  Eichenwald’s resentful introduction reads:

They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

Do we tolerate nonbelievers?  Or do we crucify those who are spiritually dead for not acting morally righteously?  We must learn from these attacks.  We must humble ourselves and discern if people hate us because they hate Jesus, or if they hate us because we are hateful.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

 – John 15.18-20

The world will hate us.  But let’s not give them extra ammo.  Let us study our Scriptures and the history of the Bible so that we will not be tossed around by arguments like the one Newsweek published.  But let us respond in love and wisdom.  Crying out, “that’s not true” and protesting, “you are being intolerant of us” is not the answer.  Let us turn the other cheek.  Let us love.  Let us rest confidently in our faith, the historically solid foundation of the Scripture and the inspired Word of God, let us know that the world will hate us on account of Jesus, but let us make known our faith by our love.  Let us proclaim the trustworthiness and historical foundation of the Scripture and teach others, in love.  We are educated.  We are well read. We are not looking for a crutch.  But we know that apart from Christ we are hopelessly lost and we rely on Him for salvation, life and joy.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 – John 13.35

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.


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.

Act Pretty

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– John 13.35

I just spent the last nine days on a motorcycle road trip with my dad and four other friends.  The solitude, joy and inspiration that riding a bike through the Rocky Mountains offers is unparalleled!  While I have certainly missed blogging daily, I enjoyed the time to think and be away and I was truly inspired.

The joke was made quite early on that the six of us do not fit the normal stereotype of bikers.  Two members of the group are techies and had cameras mounted on their bikes/helmets and I wore my disaster response bright yellow rain gear for warmth most of the week!  In fact, as the group began their planning they observed the reality that we reflect, in part, the dynamics from the movie “Wild Hogs”.  One day – while riding through the desert and searching for lunch – we came across a biker bar whose parking lot was full of bikes and the group decided to ride on another thirty minutes to the next restaurant as it was pointed out that we do not fit in!


I fully realize that this is a silly example, but as we drove on past the biker hang out, I thought to myself:  “This is just like life”.  Jesus said that the world will know that we are Christians by our love.  In our churches today, there are all sorts of “bikers”.  There are those who buy a bike to ride it from home to the restaurant to show off their machine.  There are fair weather bikers who will run a few times per season when it is 75 degrees, sunny and no wind.  There are those who love to ride but do not care about the camaraderie of groups.  And there are bikers.  We all know bikers.  You can spot them across the room, you can hear them coming from a mile away and they all wave and acknowledge each other on the road!  And of course many people stop and talk to you if you are on a bike!

What does your community think about you?  Would they be surprised to learn that you are a Christian?  Are you a fair weather Christian who takes God out for a spin when the weather is good?  Or does everything about you scream Jesus Christ?  I’m not going to get all eschatological on you and talk about the mark of the beast and the seal of Christ (although I do think it is a fascinating topic), but Jesus says that we ought to love one another in such a way that the world knows that we are Christians.  In fact, he says that “each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush” (Luke 6.44).  And again, “either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matt 12.33).

How do you stand out from the world?  Do you keep a list of do’s and don’ts to legalize your behavior and justify yourself?  Or do you abstain from the pleasures of the world to serve God and love boldly?  Do you help your buddy move or give a girlfriend a ride to the airport, or do you pour out yourself sacrificially – caring for one another as you love yourself (Matt 22.39)?

As a Christian, our behavior should be fundamentally altered:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

– 1 Cor 6.9-11

But with what should it be replaced?

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

– Gal 5.19-24

As a kid growing up, whenever my dad would drop my sisters and/or I off somewhere he would tell us to “act pretty” and “remember to whom you belong”.  As a five year old, that had some impact.  But now as an adult I regularly remind myself to remember to whom I belong.  Everything I say and do should be an outpouring of the love of God within me.  I should be marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Have you crucified the flesh with its passions and desires?  To whom do you belong?  And does the world know that you are a Christian by your love?