Friday, April 15, 2011

40 Days of Lint, Day Thirty-Three: Keeping Up Appearances

Every day we make decisions based on evidence we see. We judge whether we want to stay at a motel or not by the outside appearance, plus the cleanliness and d├ęcor of the front office. We like job candidates with a friendly, confident demeanor, who look us in the eye and give a firm handshake. They’re more likely to get a second look than someone who shuffles in looking like they just rolled out of bed. A woman who dresses provocatively is seen as an easy mark; a well kept lawn reflects on the home owner; and a defendant with greasy hair and missing teeth is more likely to be found guilty than someone who is neat and clean. Appearances matter.

That’s why Paul encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica to, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV).

So why is it that I hear many Christians today say, “I don’t care what other people think; I know I’m not doing anything wrong.” They continue to do things that have the obvious appearance of sin. Does the scripture no longer apply? It’s true that no matter how careful you are, some people will still draw the wrong conclusions. We’re not responsible for them, but we are responsible to do to do the best we can to avoid misrepresenting Christ.

Kelly and I met online. When we started seeing each other in person, he hauled his fifth wheel from Tillamook to Salem and rented a spot at the local RV Park to stay in on the weekends. He arrived every Friday after a full work week, and we spent that evening, Saturday, and Sunday together before he headed home again. It would have been cheaper and a lot less trouble if he had slept on the couch at my house. However, we knew it would look bad for his truck to be parked there overnight (not to mention the temptation!). Yet, some still assumed we slept together before marriage.

Our goal as Christians is to look, act, and speak in a way that shows we’re sold out for Christ. The once popular buzz phrase is still a good question: “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” We do need to care what others think. And be willing to pay the cost to protect God’s reputation.

Apostle Paul addressed the questionable practices of his day with these words, “If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love” (Romans 14:15). It helps me to replace the word “eat” with “wear,” “say,” “watch,” or anything else I’m seeking God’s wisdom about. It helps me to remember my life affects others in the Body of Christ.

Paul was also willing to give up some things he could have done, if they were a hindrance to others becoming Christians: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). What a good example for us today.

Obviously, we can’t please all the people all the time, and we’ll go mad if we try. The real question is why we do what we do: Do we live to please ourselves, not caring how it looks? Or do we make the conscious effort to sacrifice some pleasures and conveniences so Christ will be honored and others will be drawn to Him? Only God can show us what is right in each situation, but He will, if we ask.

Lint Removed: Pleasing Ourselves
Cleaning Process: Protecting God’s Reputation

No comments:

Post a Comment