In my early days as a Christian, I heard people say, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” The point is that for some people, we are the only Bible they read. They draw their conclusions about Christianity from what they see in us.
I believe many people have gotten a wrong or distorted view of Christianity this way. That’s why we must be careful how we live our Christian life.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he said, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2, NASB). He was confident that he and the other apostles did not need to promote themselves as Christ’s apostles. Nor did they need letters of commendations from anyone because the church members at Corinth were living epistles of the apostle’s credentials and character.
Wow! Can Christ say that about us? What message does our life convey to others about Christianity and the character of Christ?
It may seem unfair to us that, oftentimes, those outside of Christ frame their picture of Christianity by the message our lives convey. But that’s a given we cannot change. It is what it is. We must deal with that reality.
Jesus had to cope with a similar situation during His public ministry. The Pharisees and the other religious leaders kept His life under a magnifying glass. They tried to find fault with everything He did so as to discredit His ministry. But He gave them no occasion against the gospel.
Though there may be some believers who try to scrutinize us that way, they are not the ones I am talking about in this post. I am talking about a larger body of people who are not Christians. They have some curiosity about Christianity. And they are watching us who claim to be Christians to see what makes us a Christian.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
We can call ourselves Christians all we want to. But as they say, “Actions speak louder than words.”
People are not impressed with our religious talk, the cross we wear around our neck, the Christian tag on the front of our car, etc. What resonates with them is what they see in our lives. There is power in godliness. If we want to be an effective witness for Christ, we must model the life-changing power of the gospel in our personal lives.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me say that this is not a call to perfection. Christians aren’t literally perfect. They make mistakes, they do dumb things, and they can fail just like those who don’t know Christ as their Savior. But even in those instances, we should make amends in a way that reflects genuine Christianity. This is the kind of “lifestyle evangelism” Christ is calling His people to.
When our lives become living epistles, men can read and get the right message, regarding Christianity and the character of Christ. This dynamic empowers the work of the church.
Conversely, no matter how excellent our preaching is in the pulpits, and no matter how passionate we may be in our efforts to win the lost, the effectiveness of these ministries is being undermined by the life many Christians live among the very ones we are trying to win. They hear what we are saying, but more importantly, they watch what we are doing. So, what is the message of your life?
Frank King is pastor of the English-speaking congregation at the Hinesville Korean Full Gospel Church, 758 Tupelo Trail, Hinesville, GA, 31313.