Think about it: When was the last time you turned on the evening news and saw a story of a Christian doing something good? The kind of thing that made you proud to share a common faith with that person? I know every now and then we’ll see Christians at DFW greeting troops or handing out toys to underserved kids at Christmas—but I am talking about news. Like, for example, last week when several religious leaders, including Rev. Jim Winkler of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, were arrested protesting the budget deal that led to cuts in services to those in need. Did you hear much about that? Probably not. But a pastor in Florida wants to burn a Koran to commemorate September 11 (huh?) or a group of Christians protest military funerals because America is too tolerant of homosexuality (what?) and it’s front page news. Do those Christians ever consider how non-Christians now think about the Church?
Next Sunday, August 14, we’ll start a new four-part sermon series called “Christians Behaving Badly.” We’ll talk about how Christians are often spoken of by those beyond the walls of the church—how easy it is to assume everyone feels the same way about things because we share a common faith. Is it true? Is it that easy to put everyone in the same boat? Jesus spoke often—and I mean often—about how others will react to how we live our lives. And how God sees us. “By this everyone will know you are my disciples: if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). “When you fast (or pray, or, presumably, do other Christian things), do them in secret, not boastfully or in ways that draw attention to yourself. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” For those who needed attention and headlines, Jesus often said, “They have received their reward. But I say to you…” (Matthew 6).
The point is: God wants us to live righteously, not self-righteously. Do you see the difference? To live righteously means to be holy in all we do. So that others see us and they say, “Oh yeah, I know what s/he is all about. I’ve seen/heard what they believe—and not just on Sundays or when cameras are present.” One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” I try every day to live up to that responsibility, and every Christian should too. “Christians Behaving Badly” will remind us of how we should let our light shine in appropriate ways. If you have stories or experiences you would like to share I can incorporate them into the messages. Or if you have friends who are “un/de churched” you could invite them to the series and we could explore together how Christ calls us to live out our faith.