This weeks thoughts are short, but challenging. They present us with something that should ever be on our minds. The first is by Ruth Graham Bell (wife of Billy Graham), the other by Margaret Feinberg and a third by Dan Kimball. They deal with the same issue--the testimony of our faith and lives to the onlooking world.
I've been reading the book "unchristian" (Kinnaman and Lyons, Baker Books) which polled non-believers to find out what their perception of Christians and the church was. I quoted some of their findings in a sermon a few weeks back. What they discovered is that we are primarily known as being anti-homosexual (91% of non-believers said), judgmental (87%), hypocritical (86%), old-fashioned (78%), too involved in politics (76%), out of touch with reality (72%), insensitive to others (70%), boring (68%), not accepting of other faiths (64%), and confusing (61%).
In light of that I offer you two pertinent quotes that deserve our consideration. Enjoy.
"A saint is one who makes it easy to believe in Jesus."
"I would hope people would look at us and say: 'Those Christians are the ones who run in when everyone else is running out. Those Christians are the ones who didn't give up on the crumbling inner cities. Those Christians are the ones who brought peace to Darfur. Those Christians are the ones who put an end to human (sex / slave) trafficking. Those Christians are the ones who helped win the war on AIDS around the world. Those Christians are the ones who write those incredible lyrics, pen those unforgettable books, and create artwork that is mezmerizing.
Those Christians are the ones who helped my mother when she got Alzheimers. Those Christians are the ones who were kind to me when I was new to the area. Those Christians are the ones who made me want to believe in God."
Speaking of the findings in the book "Unchristian," Dan Kimball writes:
"I have great optimism about the reputation of Christianity in the future. Right now, the perceptions raised in this book of what our emerging culture thinks of Christians and the church are pretty embarrassing and sadly true. But the good news is that while people have negative perceptions of the church and Christians, they are open to and respect what they know about Jesus... people like Jesus but not the church."
Maybe it's time to re-emphasize an emphasis that used to be strong in the church -- what Thomas A'Kempis called "The Imitation of Christ," and thereby lessen the gap between what people see in Him (whom they do respect) and what they see in us or the church (whom they don't)!
In the Bonds of Gospel Hope, Pastor Jeff
Dr. Jeffrey F. Evans