Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Witness a Christian

Are you the same person at church as you are at work? at home? at the grocery store?

I try to be. If I wouldn't feel comfortable doing or saying something at church, I won't do it or say it at work, home, or the store. Do I sometimes? Unfortunately, and regretfully I do. Sometimes I do not draw on the strength of the Spirit to have a heart like Christ. I am often convicted about the state of my heart, not having right attitudes, choosing inappropriate words, and behaving in ways opposite that how a person representing Christ should behave. (Kind of like Paul, eh?)

When I do not have on the full armor of God, I am susceptible to the enemy. The enemy is not stupid, and he knows exactly the areas in which I am weak. That is exactly where he attacks. In my situation it is usually my time. I want my time to be MY time...know what I mean? Sometimes I feel so selfish just wanting some time to MYself, but I need it and desire it. I am also a very impatient person but God is working in that area of my life. I can tell because I keep ending up in circumstances that require a great deal of patience! Katie keeps telling me "If you would hurry up and get some patience, you might not find yourself in these situations so much!" LOL Thing is, I know that when I do grow in that area, the situations will still be there, but it will be my reaction to them that will have matured.

The Christian walk is a journey. God is taking all the crooked lines in our lives and making them straight. Some of the crooked lines are easily bendable, while others require a bit more, well...a little more "coaxing".

It is important to remember through all of our growing what our main job is: Mark 16:15 "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'" Jesus commanded his followers to be witnesses. He also reminded them that they were going out like "sheep among wolves."

Jesus didn't just send them out. He "armed" them. He had taught them what, and how to teach and he also gave them a bit of advice. He said "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matt 16:10)

I think for the majority of people, the "shrewed as snakes" comes a bit easier than the "innocent as doves" part. Jesus was telling his followers to be intelligent and watchful...He also told them that they would be watched, that their behavior is closely monitored by the world.

Christians are watched. I know I am at work, especially when circumstances arise where decisions on personnel are being made. I know my staff is wondering "how will she handle this?" Katie watches me, as my accountability partner, and calls me on my bad attitudes and if I may be straying from God's path. I never get far before she tenderly guides me back to the light. I know I am watched. The Spirit within me is the first line of defense for those moments that may jeopardize my witness.

What does "be as innocent as doves" mean? The dove is a symbol of peace, and also one of purity as evidenced by its use in early religious sacrifices. The dove symbolizes a childlike purity, an innocence, which is yet vulnerable to the evils of the world.

Evils are all around us, temptations are everywhere, but Jesus says "be innocent as doves". Easier said than done, but what are some ways we can make that happen in our own lives? I have a couple suggestions:

1. Watch what you say Ecclesiastes 10:12 "Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips." James 3:6 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." Words can hurt. Words also reveal the heart. One that spews curses or insults is not a problem of the mouth, it is a problem of the heart. Matthew 12:34 "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Instead of words that hate, words that hurt, let us use words like Paul prayed for in Ephesians 6:19-20 "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." A Christian should use his mouth to spread the good news.

2. Watch what you do I Peter I:13-14 "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." 1 John 3:17-19 "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence." Rest in his presence. Rest? I do not rest when I know I have spoken in error. I do not rest when I know I have not done God's Will. I desire to feel that rest that God is so willing and merciful to give me. That rest comes when we are "as innocent as doves".

A Christian witness is a follower of Christ, the Son of God. We are righteous only through Christ and by nothing we have done or could do. God calls us to share His Good News with the world, and has given us guidelines and an example, Jesus, to follow. It is His Grace and Mercy that cover us when we fail, but we should "press on toward the goal" always!

Your words today...think about them. Why were they spoken? Did they demonstrate your love for Christ? or His Love for you? What's your heart condition?

Your actions today...think about them. Why did you do that? Did it demonstrate God's Love and Mercy?

The world is watching, will it witness a Christian?

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