The name dropper
I have a friend that is a major league bragger! He makes sure you know he’s well-connected! He’ll send me pictures of him with politicians, council members, lawyers, and anyone that is a decision maker of any kind. Now, don’t get me wrong. He’s a really good man. He’s reliable, always willing to help and obviously a good person to know. He’ll call me out of the blue and ask me how I’m doing and where I am and who I’m with. I know that what he really wants me to do is ask him how he’s doing, where he is and who he’s with. He’ll casually tell me that he’s at some big-wig meeting somewhere getting paid overtime to hobnob with the upper echelon of his organization.
Now I know he means well. But I also know that it’s also part of who he is. Being a “modest bragger” is a part of his culture. He’ll talk himself up but then immediately after he’ll tell you something like “yeah, well I’m sure you could do the same in my situation”, knowing fully well that someone else may not be able to. I’ll remind him once in a while that he doesn’t need to keep this up with me and that we go way back and he doesn’t need to constantly validate himself to me. He’ll immediately answer me back and say “well if I don’t brag, who will do it for me?”. I always find his answer very interesting: it’s immediate and the same every time.
The name deniers
How about us as Christians: do we brag to our friends of our connections, of our inside scoop, our Friend in High Places? When was the last time you confidently and humbly told someone “I am a friend of God, He calls me Friend!” What brag could be more truthful, more worthy of boast, more favorable, more reliable than having the Creator of the Universe calling you “friend”? Do we go around looking for an opportunity to share with friends about our most recent encounter with God and how He did something amazing in our lives and how we’ve seen Him move.
Do your friends and relatives know that you have a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, a Strong Tower in times of trouble, an ever present Help in time of need? I can’t wait for God to complete a work in my friend’s life! He will be a major league evangelist and preacher and worker in the fields. If this is how he brags about the humans he knows, imagine what God can do with him?
What about us? What has God been able to do with us lately? Have you called a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time and shared how God brought you through a difficult time? Have you called your unsaved loved ones and had the need to tell them of God’s Grace in your life? When your children are complemented by teachers and parents alike, do you take credit or do you forward it immediately to where credit is due? Have people ever seen you praying with your children before they enter the school building? How about blasting Christian Music in your car rather than the worldly songs? Have you ever stood on a street corner sharing tracks with a smile on your face and a song in your heart?
People need to not only hear that you have a friend in Jesus, but they need to want what you have! If we’re walking around down, defeated, depressed, drowsy, droopy, disheveled, no one is going to want anything to do with our Jesus! They’ll say “If I believe in your Jesus, I can look forward to being like you? No thanks, I’m good!” We need to live His Grace daily! We need to be going around singing and smiling and praising God! If someone asks you how you’re doing, don’t necessarily tell them where you are: “oh I’m having a rough day, week, month, year!”. Tell them what you are: “I’m blessed and highly favored!”, “God is good, I’m better than I deserve”. The Bible says “let them see you…and they’ll glorify your Father in Heaven”.
God has put us here to be a light. We’re to be a sign post, a compass, a guide. A road map always pointing to His Son. No matter what storm of life you’re going through your attitude should be, “I am blessed beyond all measure!”. We are called to be the “salt of the Earth”. We’re here to give the place some flavor! We are also not called to be “cookie cutter” Christians.
God has created us all different because each of us has a different ministry: some of us are weird, nerdy, quirky, introverts: those brethren speak to people like them. Others are loud, jocks, Prom Kings and Queens. They are called to witness to people like them; still others are debaters and philosophers and thinkers. Regardless of how you are, God has made you special to reach people not in spite of how you are, but because of how you are!
As friends of the King, we have a responsibility to be ambassadors for the Kingdom. Earthly ambassadors go out of their way to shine a good light on their nation. Even when something is plainly wrong for all to see. They call it “saving face”. As citizens of Heaven, we have an advantage: our homeland has no down side! How much easier is our task than that of earthly ambassadors?! How can anyone speak ill of something with no down side? It’s like speaking ill of water!
Yet, people are always looking at what you’re doing. Notice how no one is looking to see if someone is a good Muslim, a good Hindu, a good Buddhist; no, everyone has their critical eye turned towards the followers of Christ. They are ready, willing and able to cast doubt, blame, ridicule. The Bible says that we are to expect it. If they did it to Jesus, how much more will it be done to us?
But being friends of the King is a privilege, being ambassadors for Christ is an honor. We must muster ourselves up to not merely act the part, but live it. A friend of mine was always fond of saying “Life is an interview: dress accordingly”. The Bible teaches us that we should be “living Epistles, easily read of all men”. As Christians we should carry ourselves in a manner that is befitting of our citizenship (Heaven). Our bloodline is Holy (children of the Most High). Our position (Royal Priesthood) is regal, and our destiny (co-heir with Christ) is beyond compare.
When you start living according to who God created you to be and not what the devil and the world want you to believe, you will see amazing things happen in your life. Blessings you weren’t expecting, favor you don’t understand, influence you can’t explain. You were made for so much more! As C.S. Lewis would say, more than a “mere Christian”. You are an overcoming, a chain-breaking, a legacy-changing, marriage-restoring, blood-bought saint of the Living God and no weapon formed against you shall prosper! We need to live this Christianity out loud with boldness and in love!
Out of season
I remember a long time ago when I was just about 20. I was working at a branch of an overseas Italian Bank in the City. It took me a few days but I got a good sense of people. I have to admit. I read people very well. A week in and I started feeling very comfortable around them. As always, I smile a lot, laugh, tell jokes, do my work and go home.
I didn’t advertise the fact that I was a Christian. About a month or so in, I was having a conversation with a colleague and the subject came around to religion. Since we were both Italian she assumed I was Catholic. I politely responded and said in a very mousy voice, in Italian, “no, sono evangelista”, which means “I’m evangelical”. I will never forget her response. She took a breath and with a very long “o” sound at first she said “that’s what’s different about you?!?”
She was shell-shocked and relieved at the same time. Later, she shared that she had finally figured out what the vibe was she was. She told me that “I knew you were different and weird, but in a good way.” Imagine. She figured out that I was “different and weird” under all my sin and worldly living. How much more would she have been able to see if I had been living righteously? She saw, felt, she sensed God’s anointing.
Seemingly aware of His Presence in my life even when I was doing my best to hide it! She was able to read my “epistle” covered under all that gunk and soot and sin. But the Bible teaches us that we are Royal Priesthood, a peculiar people: we can’t hide who we are any more than a leopard can lose its spots or a camel hide its humps! We are created to shine. To stand out. We were anointed to plant in every field and saved to harvest wherever possible!
We are here to point people to Jesus; show them that there is a Hope, not just “beyond the clouds” but one that is real and practical and tangible, able to help in their everyday lives. We have to show them that there IS something about us, about our lives, in us, in our lives, that gives us an above-human strength to get up every morning and face life with a smile, a sincere smile and face life without fear, confident that life is good because God is good! People need to see us and want what we have! The Bible teaches us that in the “presence of God there is fullness of Joy”.
People need to see in us that our old nature, our sadness, our faults, our sins, our depression, our lack, our struggles were already paid for in full on the Cross: sadness does come, but doesn’t have our permission to stay: lack may come but it’s just a pit stop, it’s not the road God has for us; our old nature fights for a “comeback tour” but we don’t have to buy tickets to any of the stops; our seasons of depression is a surprise only to us, not God! So, as the Apostle Paul teaches us, in ALL things, give thanks to God, knowing fully well that is is more than Ready, more than Willing, more than Able, to do abundantly more than we could ever expect, imagine, or, most of all, deserve!
People need to see that our connection, our Friend, our “Only Phone Call”, our first Resume Reference is God the Almighty through His Son Jesus Christ. When people say it’s impossible for us to get that promotion, we need to be able to say with boldness “Once God makes up His mind, it’s a done deal!” If they tell us we’ll never get that loan, we say “No worries, the Owner of all things is a friend of mine!” Whenever they tell us you’ll never get into that college, we answer “I’ll ask the Head Recruiter and see what He says!”.
And around again
Rain, shine, hail, drizzle, blizzard, earthquake, drought, flood: whatever circumstances we may have around us, we rise above them through our Lord Jesus Christ. And people will be able to see this best, not in our triumphs, but in our defeats! It’s easy to be a “Fair-weather Christian” all is well so God is good. You need to turn that around: God is Good so all is well. If He leaves you out in the rain longer than expected or the job situation takes you beyond the unemployment checks. When the illness needs an extra round or treatment, the marriage counseling needs more time. If the kids are wondering off: will we still be faithful and say “All is well” believing that God is in control of everything.
He has our very best in mind for us: will they see you preaching and praising then? When it counts? Even when it hurts? How about when it’s hard? What if you can’t find the words, will you praise Him then? Will you say like Job, with a sincere heart, “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him!”. When it’s pitch black, will you trust that a new day has begun even though you can’t see the sun? Will you walk in victory in spite of the circumstances shouting out defeat?
No posing, please
You see, people have had their fill of “Fair Weather Christians”, but deep down inside of them God has put this yearning to want to hope for something better; they know that despite all our faults and all our mistakes along the way, Jesus is still the only answer to the void they feel inside, they just want to see it done, they want to see what it looks like!
They want to see that it’s real. Believe me when I tell you, when they question things in their lives, they think of you. When they come across a moral dilemma, they think of you; when they encounter a new challenge, they think of you. “What would Billy do in this situation; what would Jane say in this situation”? We are called to let our “light shine before Men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven”.
Our light is not our own. It was bought at a price. A price we could not pay for a debt He did not owe. God is asking us: what will we do with that light, what will we do about His Son? Will we hide like I did for far too long? Hopefully, we will stand and be counted. Counted like Joshua, Caleb, Stephen, John, and Daniel. There isn’t a whole in Creation deep enough from which God cannot rescue and to which His Light cannot reach. People want to, need to see us boast in the Lord. Tell your friends, family, your neighbors, and coworkers, “My God is Able”. These souls need you to tell them. Tell them your smile, sunny disposition, faith, Peace, demeanor, your surrender, and your reasonableness, are not yours. They were bought at a price.
They need to know the Scandal of Grace. Grace is freely given. Since it was freely given then freely you received it. Therefore, freely you share it with them. Tell them there’s nothing they can do and nothing they have to do to earn it. Tell them that they too can claim their right to be called Sons and Daughters of the Most High, Heirs and coheirs with Christ, tell them they no longer have to live under the circumstances but they can live above the circumstances. They need us to tell them that God is always Good and God is Just even if life isn’t fair. Tell them they too can be Friends of the King! God loves them just the way they are.
From the mountaintops
They’re precious to Him. Tell them that. Tell them Jesus died for their sins. Why? So they can finally be at peace with God. Tell them to come just as they are, scars and all; to speak this simple Truth: “I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead”. Tell them that this simple Truth, this only Truth, has set them free! Free from who they were. From who they thought they needed to be. They are free from who they were told to be. Who they wanted to be. Freedom from who they thought they wanted to be. Tell them that now their life starts anew! They are renewed, redeemed and restored! They are reborn. Indeed, born again! If you receive this, let it be done as you have said, in Jesus’s name, Amen!