But What About Our Christian Faith?
At this particular moment in time (October 28, 2016) there are numerous ‘big events’ occurring. Here are just four of them:
- Halloween (October 31)
- Reformation Day (October 31, 499th anniversary of the birth of the Protestant Church)
- The World Series – The Chicago Cubs versus The Cleveland Indians
- The Presidential Election
On Monday the 31st a lot of attention will go to the ‘celebration’ of Halloween….yawn (although Grace Christian Fellowship is having Trunk or Treat from 6:00PM until 8:00PM….come on by!).
The World Series is going on right now. At this moment the Series is tied 1-1, with the first two games in Cleveland. Friday the two teams will begin a three game stretch in Chicago. Neither team has been in or won a World Series in a long, long, long time, which makes this particular Series all the more exciting.
On Sunday the 30th there will be some attention given in some churches for the celebration of the birth of the Protestant Church (Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses/complaints on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral that sparked the Reformation of the Church). Grace Christian Fellowship will definitely be acknowledging, singing, and preaching on this topic. My message will be entitled “The Rebirth of Grace at the Reformation”.
And of course, the Presidential election has been going on for two (seems like ten) loooooooooong years and will finally end (Hallelujah!) on Tuesday, November 8th. Well, some say it really won’t ‘end’ – it’ll just be the beginning….of who knows what!
Now, to sort of switch gears: How do people ‘promote’ their devotion to these events or express their love and support to the general topic each event represents? In other words, how do we know that someone is excited about Halloween? Or devoted to their favorite sports team? Or is joyful about Reformation Day (or more generally, their Christian faith)? Or passionate about their political party/choice?
Halloween fans embellish their houses, offices, and themselves with all sorts of funny, scary, weird, and outrageous decorations to inform us of their love of the ‘holiday’ (It’s always a little weird calling Halloween a ‘holiday’, ‘holy day’!!). I’m not hung up on the old “it’s a celebration of demons” mentality. I get it….I just don’t get bent out of shape about it. Just have some fun and be careful.
Sports/Baseball fans will ‘wear their colors’ – donning caps, jerseys, painting their faces and bodies, as well as decorating their homes, cars and offices with their team’s logo and colors. Like Elaine’s boyfriend Puddy on Seinfeld, “You gotta support your team!”
Those supporting Presidential candidates or political parties proudly wear political pins; put placards (Seven “p’s”!) up in their yards or bumper stickers on their cars with their candidates name on them. As a side note: Have you noticed the LACK of presidential signs up in your neighborhood and around town. During our recent drive to North Carolina we hardly saw ANY signs for either candidate, and once we were in North Carolina, the few – and I mean few – signs we saw were for Trump.
Driving the nine miles from my home to the church – driving through two cities with large populations (Clearwater, pop 111,000; Largo, pop 84,500), I saw maybe three or four Trump signs and one Clinton sign! Eight and four years ago my neighborhood was filled with Obama vs. McCain and Obama vs. Romney signs….where did they all go? How come there seems to be a lack of publicly proclaiming one’s allegiance to a candidate? I’m just guessing, but I think people aren’t publicly posting political placards (five “p’s”, I’m really on an alliteration roll!) because: 1. They are embarrassed of their candidate, so they are quietly voting; 2. They are fearful – fearful of retaliation or mockery. Oh, both groups do plenty of ranting on Facebook where they can hide behind their computer, but again, the public signs just aren’t out there. Maybe in your town they are there…if so, good for you – or maybe not so good! Personally, I’m glad for the reduction.
Well, this Words of Grace isn’t really about Halloween, the World Series, or the Presidential race, and not even specifically about Reformation Sunday. I’m all for being a ‘fan’ of a holiday celebration, an important historical event, a sports team, and of a political party and their particular issues (Notice I didn’t say ‘candidate’), but peoples affections and commitment towards political parties can change (Just look at Charlie Crist in our state of Florida!); you can be up or down about Halloween every other year; and you can change your devotion from one sports team to another (Me as an example: born and raised a Yankee fan; today I’m a converted and true blue Rays fan).
But what about our Christian faith? How do we ‘advertise’ our Christian faith? Are you all about wearing t-shirts that have subtle, or blatant and extreme Christian messages? Is your language always peppered with Christianese (“Praise the Lord” three times in every second sentence; “glory”, “Have a Jesus filled day”, “on fire for God”, “Let me share with you”, “led by the Spirit”, “hallelujah”)? Do you adorn yourself with a cross necklace? Is your car covered with Jesus bumper stickers? A dear Christian lady that passed away some time ago once told me that she would never put a Christian bumper sticker on her car because she knew how ‘unchristian’ her driving was! I appreciated her honesty!!
Now, I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but rather, I just want to remind us that these external forms of expression are not to be the primary way we are to use to ‘prove’ our love for and allegiance to the Lord.
Wearing a Rays or Cubs cap (I have both!) will not necessarily – actually, it probably won’t – ‘convert’ someone to become a Rays or Cubs fan. Putting a political sign on my front yard probably won’t convince my neighbor to vote for my candidate; and ranting on Facebook not only won’t change someone’s mind about their candidate, it will probably make your friend even more determined to crush you with contrary info, or it’ll cause them to ‘unfriend’ you!
What does God’s Word say about expressing our love and devotion to the Lord? What does the Bible say about ‘advertising’ (I don’t seriously mean this word, but I hope you get what I mean) our faith so that others would become interested and possibly drawn to the Jesus that you love and worship? Well, I’m glad I asked. Here’s what God’s Word says about letting the world know how much Jesus has changed/transformed/repurposed your life:
John 13:35 – “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another”. That’s a biggie! Are you loving one another, or are you vicious, cruel, mean, critical, insulting, or indifferent?
Colossians 4:5-6 – “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Be wise, full of grace, seasoned with salt – not arrogant, impulsive, or condemning.
Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:8; Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Peter 3:15 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek….So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner….And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should….Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”. Be prepared and willing to graciously share with people how Jesus changed your life.
Luke 6:43-45; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 2:12 – “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A Christian brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the unbelieving man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of…..But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law….Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us”. We are known by the fruit we bear in our lives. If you are loving, joyful, at peace, patient, etc. then your unbelieving friends will take notice. But if you are mean, disinterested, arrogant and selfish….well, they will notice that too!
Luke 6:27-28 – “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”. Another biggie….well, they are all big, but the Christian who is loving their enemies – and by that I’m not talking about approving of sinful behavior and attitude, but just flat out loving your enemies, it’ll be like heaping hot coals on their head – they will pop up and take serious notice that instead of crushing or laughing at them or their misfortune, you are crying with them, helping them, loving them.
That, my friends, is how we ‘advertise’ or support or express our love and devotion for our TEAM and the CAPTAIN of TEAM JESUS, not by t-shirts, crosses, tattoos, bumper stickers, Christianese, or any other external means that might confuse people and push them away, more than draw them towards the loving and merciful (and Holy) Savior that graciously transforms sinners into redeemed children of the Lord God.
So, go ahead and cheer for your team (Go Cubbies!); and pray and vote your conscience; but most importantly, shine the light of Christ that lives in your heart and made you into a child of the King or gets to forever sit at the Lord’s Table as one of His children.