Are you being misinterpreted or just misrepresenting?

If you are a Christian you are a living billboard for the Kingdom of God.  Jesus in you and me is what people see and hear first.

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.  (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Things we say and do (or not say and not do) mean a lot to those around us.  While the basis of salvation through Jesus Christ is not based on our words and deeds; those words and deeds reveal to the world around us what and who we are.  God’s grace is poured out to cover the multitude of our transgressions, our iniquities and our sins.  The Holy Spirit living inside of us is working to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ.  For most of us the Holy Spirit has a significant amount of work to do.

Please do not read this and interpret this to be a salvation by works or merit message because it is not.  Jesus saves us as sinners, no prerequisite on our part except for repentance and faith.

The Christian life is an uphill journey that requires transformation, discipline and death to our flesh.  This transformation is not accomplished by human effort, but by our human submission to the will, word and Spirit of God.

What I want to speak about is our presentation to the unsaved world.  We are on display 24/7 whether we like it or not.  The world is watching and they want to see Christ living in us.  Will we fall short?  Yes and unfortunately many times.  Will we offend people with ourselves and not the gospel?  Will there be moments you wish you could erase from the memory of those in your family, social circles or professional life?  Yes and yes.  Is there a difference between a fall and recovery through repentance (towards God and man) and a lifestyle that is in opposition to the gospel?  Oh yes there is; and that is what I want to focus on.

You are going to miss it – you are going to have to learn to deal with it.  If your heart is consistently seeking after God, His Word and fulfilling His call on your life you will repent and “get back on the horse”.

However, if your lifestyle is opposed to the faith your mouth proclaims you are in a completely different category.

We find people like this in our pews and our pulpits.  We find them at no level of involvement in the ministry as well as those who have national and international notoriety in the ministry.  It is these people who make it increasingly difficult for Christians in their witness.

Unbelievers are expected to think, speak and act contrary to the Word of God.  It is normal for their lifestyle to be radically different from that which God desires.  This is the reason Jesus came to save us.

Believers are expected to think, speak and act in agreement to the Word of God.  It is normal for our lifestyle to be aligned with that which God desires for we have the Holy Spirit living within us.

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.  (dc talk)

  • Does it make a difference?
  • Do we live what we say we believe?
  • Do we follow the preaching and commandments we tell others?
  • Do our words and actions reveal Christ or are they being misinterpreted by those who see us?
  • Many people who are not familiar with Christianity glean their impressions of our faith from Christians in common scenarios like:

    How we treat our server at the restaurant after church service….

    • Did we tip correctly?
    • Were we polite?

    How we drive with the “Jesus” bumper sticker, air freshener or fish on our cars…

    • Do we have fits of road rage?
    • Do we gesture, yell and scream things that Jesus would not?

    How we treat the people we work with; especially those who work for us

    • Is there an atmosphere of respect and love, even when accountability is involved?
    • Is our language appropriate?
    • Are our relationships appropriate?

    How do we behave when the pressure is on and we feel really stressed out?

    • Does sanctification take a backseat to the flesh?
    • Do we lash out at those around us?

    Other things that send the wrong messages to the world and can allow them to read things that do not exist

    • You are consistently seen alone with a member of the opposite sex to who is not your spouse and you are married
    • You are seen sitting at the bar in a restaurant
    • You are seen at a movie, concert, location or event that is contrary to the message of the gospel

    You may be completely innocent but the effect on the perception of the unbeliever remains.

    Our right to speak into someone’s life with the gospel is greatly affected by the life we live before them.

    Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:13-16)

    The perception of our lives from the outside world as well as those within the church is a significant component in how our testimony will be received.  To say it simply, people want to see proof of our beliefs & faith operating in our lives.

    It takes more than the “Jesus” shirt to show the world that you are a Christian.  It takes love.  Love for God and love for people.

    Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commands more important than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

    Proof of love is found in actions:

    If you love me, you will obey my commands. (John 14:15)

    If your lifestyle is a contradiction of the faith you profess than you are being misinterpreted and you are misrepresenting the gospel.  Technically you are consistently violating the 3rd commandment.

    You must not use the name of the Lord your God thoughtlessly; the Lord will punish anyone who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7)

    We take the name of God in vain when we have thoughtlessly claimed to be Christian with no intention of pursuing Jesus Christ in our lives.  This is a gross misrepresentation of the gospel.

    Here is a list of things I have seen over the last few months that cause me to question the salvation and/or sanctification of some:

    • Two men preparing to fight (literally) over a place in line at a general admission Christian concert
    • Pastor discovered renting a “companion” from to assist him with luggage on a European trip
    • Owner of a Christian television network drinking beer, margaritas and lots of vino at the booth across from me

    I am sure you could add to my list.  It is easy to point out the flaws of others but hard to deal with our own.  There are certain things that are slips in judgement and weak moment of flesh and there are other more enduring character and lifestyle issues.  These are the main source of my frustration.

    So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

    Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:16-26)

    If there are seemingly permanent fixtures in your life or lifestyle that are listed above they need to be removed.  They need to be surrendered to a sin forgiving God who is passionately in love with you.  You need to repent (turn away from sin and turn towards God) and believe the gospel.  “If we confess our sins he is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

    You need to get filled with the Holy Ghost.  You need to renew your mind with the Word of God, every day.  You need to be in a bible believing, bible preaching and bible living church where the Spirit of God is free to move (every time the doors are open).  You need to share with others the change that Jesus Christ has made in your life.  You need to pursue Jesus Christ; seeking to be like Him.

    Every once and a while we are going to do something that causes our faith to be misinterpreted.   What we must change and avoid is living a lifestyle that misrepresents the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.   Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!  (1 Corinthians 6:9-13)

    Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

    The easiest way to avoid a misinterpretation of your words, actions and intentions is to remember that someone is always watching.  Like it or not.  Fair or not.  It is just true

    Oh, be careful little eyes what you see

    Oh be careful little ears what you hear

    Oh be careful little feet where you go

    For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful…

    His eye is on the sparrow and He is watching us.

    The easiest way to avoid misrepresenting the God whom you love and who loves you is to sell out and surrender all to Jesus.

    I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back

    Though none go with me still I will follow, no turning back, no turning back

    The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back.

    I do not write to condemn, but to shake you.  We are all condemned outside of the blood of Christ, but if we name His name we should live like He commands.  He loves us and has given all that He is.  Do we love Him enough to give Him all that we are?

    Let your life be one that reflects the image of your heavenly Father.  You are the salt of the earth.  Stay salty.

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