I trust you are doing well and looking forward to Sunday.
Here’s an interesting question:
What would happen if every person you had interactions with the past 3 months were to show up in church and you found them sitting in “your section” or another part of the auditorium?
A few rows ahead sits the mechanic who worked on your car or put on your winter snow tires. Down the pew is the waitress from your favorite coffee shop with her family. Behind them, you notice the grocery store clerk along with two teenagers who bags your groceries. They notice you, smile, and wonder if you’ll be as impatient with the pastor who goes long in the service as you were with them.
Your barber or hairdresser is in church, right beside the plumber and electrician you had at your home for repairs. The men who pick up your trash are here too. Fortunately, they are wearing their good clothes today. You remember them clearly: you scolded them for not returning your garbage bin to its rightful place. Behind them sits the Amazon, Fed-Ex, and UPS delivery fellows who’ve all heard enough complaints from you about the lousy service. They’re in church to see just what kind of church you might attend.
Sitting halfway back is a group you don’t recognize. These are the cable service people, the internet provider, the cell phone company, the bank representative, airline agent, and credit card company personnel you talked to trying to solve a problem. Some
speak broken English, but they understand enough to get by. You were more than a little impatient with all of these on the phone recently. Chances are good they won’t recognize your voice whenyou welcome them to church.
Your children’s schoolteachers are here, along with the assistant principal. You blush when you think about the last parent-teacher conference or the interaction that was yours.
Here’s the point: If your interaction with people is less than flattering and is marked more by rudeness than grace, that makes you a hypocrite and an embarrassment to the cause of Christ.
Our conduct is not a private matter. We are citizens of heaven, servants of Jesus on a mission in an alien land. We are ambassadors of Jesus. We interact with people who make decisions about Jesus Christ and eternity based in part on what they see in us!
Our situation is not unlike an American soldier stationed in a foreign country. He wears his uniform into the city and engages people in conversation and various dealings as he buys items, eats in restaurants, takes in a movie. The people however do not see him as the individual that he is. They see an American soldier. They make decisions about Americans and our military based on his conduct.
Imagine the U.S. Ambassador to Britain (formally known as “The Court of St. James”) saying to the president, “I can’t imagine you asking me to do that thing. I have my rights, you know. Why should I act any differently in London than anyone else?” The president sighs and says, “May I remind you, Ambassador, you are there by my appointment. I can recall you any time I please. Your entire purpose in that country is to do my bidding. What part of that don’t you understand?”
That’s why Christians in this world put up with a great deal of hassle and misbehavior without retaliating. We are representing the Lord Jesus and people will draw conclusions about our Savior by what we do. I’m not suggesting we become a doormat. I’m suggesting we take to heart Paul’s words to the Christians in Colossae:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the
Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an
inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are
serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
See you this Sunday in person or online.
In the light of His glory and grace,
Originally intended to be published February 4, 2022