Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When Necessary, Use Words...

Preach the gospel and when necessary, use words. - St. Francis

This is one of those quotes that for time now has been stated repeatedly, both for its simplicity and it's depth. The quote itself is something that if placed in a paragraph of jargon might be lost due to how short it is, however, this quote carries with it the weight of the gospel.

For those of you that don't know, this week is my last week at my current employer. God has graciously provided me (and why I don't know) a job elsewhere. The stress level is reduced and the work load is decreased, however, I think the lessons God is going to teach me are going to be like non other. While I have a peace about my next job, I don't. I do because I know that it's where I need to be, however, at the same time I have this sense of unworthiness. Why? Well it's mainly due to the above quote.

This morning I came in earlier than normal to complete something for someone. It was a simple yet tedious task of scanning somewhere around 1,000 pages of bank statements, enough to make you prefer being thrown into a washing machine (it was the first thing that came to mind, I'm sorry). Nevertheless, while I was scanning, the person who assigned me the job came by my desk to check on the status of his work. I was no where to be found (because I was in the copy room scanning away). The sad part came when he sent me an email that read: " I thought you were coming in at 7am?
My good friend, unless something important or a family emergency came up, I need to say that you certainly don’t practice what you preach."

After speaking to him and ironing out the reason behind his message, it was clear that it had nothing to do with trying to upset me and everything to do with him being a good friend. He isn't a christian, however, he was sharpening me and bringing to my attention a fault I have. I work hard, however, not hard enough. I commit to things, but at times I struggle to follow through. I have the tendency to some days just get lazy. Additionally, and to my shame, I have in the past used a holy act to justify an unholy act.

The danger in the above is that with each occurence my testimony is damaged. It's true what St. Francis said, our words are not nearly as important as our actions. Our actions and how it is we handle situations both in response and in initiation can often times determine how open people will be to hearing the gospel when the opportunity is presented to us. Tomorrow I'll be going to lunch with him. When the opportunity presents itself to talk Jesus, I now have the obstacle I put in front of me.

Whether at work or at school, church or at home, please please please keep that testimony. If our commission is to preach the gospel unto every nation and bring people to Christ, we need to make sure that our lives match up with the thing which we're saying. A quote that has always stuck out in my head goes like this: “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”

Matt 5:16 is clear on our need to be lights in this world, but what happens when we go against what the gospel says? It's kinda like putting a lens cap over your flashlight, sure you have a flashlight, but you look just as dark as the next guy. We are all going to sin, no man is without sin (Ecc 7:20). It is this pressing matter that allows Christianity to talk, however, when we become hypocritical in our talk and our walk doesn't line up, we are in danger of shutting doors.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have spoken with people on the street and most of the time the issue has nothing to do with the bible more than it does with the people. Many times people have an issue with the church, with the pastor, with a friend who is a christian and often times we forget one of the most important ingredients of christianity. We forget the most important element of Christ: Love (John 13:35). Love should drip from our every word, our every actions.

Love alone should drive us to live to be more Christ-like. While we will never be exactly like Christ, our walk should always be headed in the direction of Him (1 John 2:6).

I am dirt. I am the lowest of the low. The only thing that makes me anything in God's eyes is Christ and Christ alone. Because I am covered in the blood of the lamb I am made white as snow. Love should be my driving force, love should flow through my veins and come right out my pores. When I sin, my spirit should twist and turn in desparate need of repentence and a hug from the father.

Consider this next time you're about ready to do something that might compromise your walk. Look at the people around you, the people who are about to witness you explode. If they even have the slightest idea you are Christian, or if you're wearing that WWJD bracelet, consider their hearts, better yet, consider their eternal destination. Think about how you might hinder the word from getting through. Think about how with your actions you might cause someone to stumble over the cross. Consider not your own need to express your emotions through anger and desdain, instead, consider your need to express the love of Christ, so that someone might come to know Him. It's all about humility because of love. You are humble because it was His love alone that saved you. You express humility and esteem others greater than you and as a result want nothing more than to love on them.

Let love be the blood which sustains your every breath. Because it is His blood that is proof of the ultimate love He first had for you.

I have a week left in this place. May the rest of my week be a living letter for Christ, so that when I'm gone, someone might consider Christ. I have had plenty of mishaps and most likely, many people in this place won't remember me for Christ. (It makes me cry) However, all is not lost if just one person see's the light. Then all the mistakes, all the stupidity and all the heartache was worth it.

1 Corinthians 9:22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

James 1:22 "But be DOERS of the word, not just hearers, deceiving yourselves."

Love you guys/gals

Adendum: I was just listening to to this song and I wanted to add it...sometimes when we mess up we need this reminder...

I'll blame all this on my selfishness
Yet you love me
And that consumes me
And I'll stand up again
And do so willingly

You give me hope, and hope it gives me life
You touch my heavy heart, and when you do you make it light
As I exhale I hear your voice
And I answer you, though I hardly make a noise
And from my lips the words I choose to say
Seem pathetic, but it's fallen man's praise
Because I love you
Oh God, I love you
And life is now worth living
If only because of you
And when they say that I'm dead and gone
It won't be further from the truth

When I go down
I lift my eyes to you
I won't look very far
Cause you'll be there
With open arms
To lift me up again
-Relient K (When I go Down)

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