As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
There is no Plan B. For the message of the gospel to reach the multitudes, we have to share it. Those of us who profess Christ must take the message of the gospel into the world. God didn’t say, “Well, if you guys aren’t up to it, it’s fine. I’ll just use cats. Yes, cats are my go to plan.”
God won’t use cats. I love cats, but they would be a horrible Plan B anyway. Have you ever tried to herd cats? So since there is no alternate plan for getting the message of the truth of Jesus out to the world, the Bible tells us to live as children of the light. Paul told the Ephesians that their job was to live differently from the godless folks around them. As followers of Christ, people should be able to see a difference in us. We used to walk in darkness, but those days are done.
Now we are to be ever ready. Like the batteries. Whenever someone asks us about the hope that we have in Christ we must be sitting at the ready to talk about it. And we are supposed to do this with kindness and gentleness. None of this beating people up with the Bible. People tend to listen less when they are being beaten. It closes the ears as well as the heart right up.
So how do we walk as children of the light? What does that even look like? It means that we live the way Jesus lived. Jesus gave up his right to be God while here on earth. When we decide to follow Jesus and accept his gift of life, we give up some things, too. We give up the right to think of ourselves first. We give up pridefulness and offense. We give up the plan we had for our lives, and go with the plan God has for us.
When we identify ourselves with Jesus to the world, we must learn to walk as children of the light. It is the responsibility we bear. Each day we are tasked with representing the Kingdom of God well. I know it can be hard. I really do. There are lots of things I would often like to say or do in certain situations, but I am learning that the cost to the Kingdom is too great.
Those who are skeptical of the gospel are looking for us to fail, and when we do, it gives them reason in their minds to keep running from God. Instead, we are to live lives that cause non-believers to see our good deeds and praise our God in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) That’s a tall order. When was the last time someone praised God in heaven because of something I did or said? Ouch.
We can live by the lie that says faith is a private thing, and we shouldn’t talk about it openly. Hey, if no one knows we are followers of Christ, then they won’t stumble at our failings to follow Him well, right? I have a friend who discourages her Christian husband from putting a fish sticker on his car because he is such a rude driver. We laugh about it, but it’s better. It’s better than putting it out there and then acting like a jerk behind the wheel.
But hiding our faith is not what we are asked, commanded even, to do. What would be best for my friend’s husband is for him to stop being a rude driver. Sticker or no sticker.
On a recent trip in to downtown Birmingham one morning, a wreck had turned I-59 into a virtual parking lot. I finally managed to maneuver into traffic from the merging lane, and decided to make room in front of me for someone else to pull over. The driver who did only pulled partially into the lane in front of me. Then I watched her, three times, dart back into the merging lane to block other cars from getting around her. At first, I just thought she was trying to decide if she was going to head on down the merging lane and slide into traffic a little further down, but no. She was literally trying to block others from getting ahead of her, and nearly running them off the road in the process.
And then I saw it. The cross sticker on her rear window. I had some pretty unholy thoughts of my own at that moment. Really? You’re going to display the image of the cross on your car and then proceed to act like that? If I am remembering correctly, I wanted to smack her.
It was a good reminder. While I don’t choose to put any Christian symbols on my car, I don’t make it a habit of hiding my faith from those around me. If I choose to follow the command to share the good news of Christ, then I bear the responsibility of living a life worthy of that calling. (Ephesians 4:1) I don’t always get that right, but I always feel the weight of the burden.