Let me start with a question. Do you ever wonder what people think about you when they find out you’re a Christian? There are some things that we hope they think about us. We hope they think that we are good and loving and family oriented devoted. That our life isn’t all about us but it’s about other people. That we care for poor people and love people when they are sick. We hope that’s what people think. That’s what we want them to think. But, really, we know in our hearts that isn’t true. That in our culture, for the most part, when we say we are Christians, people have a different opinion. You knew that didn’t you. Let me prove it to you. I have some quotes.
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
― Stephen Colbert
“If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”
― Woody Allen,
“Christians are hard to tolerate; I don’t know how Jesus does it”
Have you ever noticed how most evil people are big hypocritical Christians. They think it’s the perfect cover. Lyle Lovett
I will edit this for content because their are kids in the room but you’ll get the jist. “it’s not god who’s messed up, it’s the screamers who say they believe in him and who claim to pursue their ends in his holy name.”
― John Irving,
I used to golf a lot. When you golf alone or with another friend the golf course usually hooks you up with another couple of golfers to make a foursome. When we would meet I would try to put off what I did for a living as long as I could. I remember specifically one group I golfed with that clearly would have acted differently had they known my given profession. Every shot was greeted with an F this or S that or D this. Even the good shots. Their vocabulary was limited in scope but creative in usage. Until the 10th hole. Someone asked me, “So, Jack, what do you do for a living?” “I’m a pastor.” I can’t remember exactly what they said but it was something like “You’re a bleeping pastor.” I had never thought of myself in those terms before.
It’s not that I don’t want people to know that I’m a Christian. But there are times when I feel a little afraid of who people will align me with if I give them that information.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like if people knew you were a Christian they would think that you are judgy and opinionated and hypocritical ? Better question. Are people right for thinking that way about us? Is that who we really are?
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1,2
Paul says, “If that’s all you’ve got. If you’re just a bible answer man or a Indiana Jones faith warrior, but you don’t love people. You’re nothing.” The word here is Ouden. If you know where this verse is and that verse is and all the theories about when Jesus is coming back and who wrote the book of Hebrews, but you don’t love people. You’re Ouden. You’re nothing. If you’ve been all over the world and started foundations and fed hungry people but you don’t love people. You’re Ouden. You’re nothing. As far as usefulness to God, you don’t have any.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:3
What he’s saying is this. If I give all my money over to God so that I’m poor and then after that I sell myself into slavery and give that money away. If I’m that spiritual so that money means nothing to me. Even then, if you don’t love people, you’re nothing. You’re Ouden. You don’t have any usefulness to God.
Do you want to know why so many people do not like Christians? Here it is. Too many Christians simply do not lead with love. We have the tendency to substitute devotion for action. We are tempted to focus more on what we believe than what we do.
Jesus brother James put it like this
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
Those are strong words. He got the idea from his brother.
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. Matthew 7:26
Wouldn’t it be great if we were known as doers instead of believers.
Kids don’t ever
Honey don’t ever
At work don’t ever
Don’t watch this
Don’t smoke that
Don’t drink this
It’s so easy to slip into that pattern. I’m going to believe this and study that and set these rules and listen to Christian radio and be really good at devotions and you know what, those are all good things. But if that’s all you’ve got, it’s Ouden. It’s nothing.
Maybe it’s time for us as Christians to stop trying to make a point and start trying to make a difference. Maybe it’s time for us to stop settling for devotion and get in motion. Maybe it’s time to stop just believe and start doing.
I remember a moment when I was running car pool. As we are leaving the house, my daughter asked me if we could bring the dog. I said “No” then the dog ran out of the house, so I said, “Okay” After I drop off my girl I’m getting out of the van I grab her drink that she only half finished to bring it into the house. As I pick up the drink, the dog jumps into my hand and knocks the drink all over the car. Any guesses what’s in the drink? Milk. And it’s all in the nooks and crannies and in between the seat. So like any good pastor, I throw a little tantrum. As I’m trying to get the milk out from between the seats my neighbor comes over to check out what I’m doing. My neighbor is a great guy, but he’s not a Christian. He suggests we use a air compressor to blow the milk out from under the console. After we are done, I bring up the message I’m going to do this week. I have no idea how it came up. As we are talking I drop this line on him, “Most Christians are more interested in making a point then making a difference.” He says, “That’s totally true.” Then he tells me this story. Last year he got a scholarship to play baseball in the midwest at a Christian college. This is how he described it. “People were walking around saying, “don’t do this, don’t do that, be more like this, be more like that. Love was the last thing you felt there.” Do you know what the name of the school was. Grace.
If I raise perfect children maintain the perfect schedule and maintain my ideal weight but do not have love I am nothing more than a leaf blower at 6:30 on a Saturday morning
If I drive an electric car wear Toms and decline any coffee that isn’t fair trade but do not have love I am nothing more then an obnoxious ring tone in a crowded movie theater
If I take my family to the holy land and leave New Testaments at every room along the way but do not have love I am nothing more than a middle school girls playlist
Let’s stop trying to make a point and start trying to make a difference. Let’s get our devotion into motion.
If you’ve ever felt that way I have great news. What God is calling us to something that we already know how to do. Something at least at one time in our life we were good at. He’s not calling us to be the bible answer man. He’s not calling us to go door to door witnessing. He’s not calling us to grab a loudspeaker and go the street corner. Our number one job on this earth is to love people. Just to love them. The mark of maturity in our life isn’t how many verses you know or have many missions trips you’ve been on or how many questions you can answer. The measure of maturity is simply this. How well do you love.
Maybe you need to get yourself to a place where your heart is broken.