How will the world know that we are Christians? Virtually every Christian I know, be they Catholic, Protestant, non-denom, etc., while very nice people and sincere enough in their faith, do not differ radically from the nicer, conservative element of our society. Given that, how is it that we are supposed to stand out? Some initial thoughts come to mind.
Our religion basically boils down to 2 great commandments: love God and love our neighbor. One of the defining characteristics of a Christian is love. God is love and those who belong to Him will reflect that essential trait of His being. So what do we mean by that? Christians will be known because they are nice people? Not quite.
First, we love God. We love Him above anything, or anyone, including ourselves. He gave Himself for us. Now we are called to give ourselves to Him. This is marital language. This is the language of love. In so doing we make a radical departure from our old lives of sin. We no longer lie, cheat, or steal. We do not indulge in parties with excess of eating and drinking. We cease loving our possessions. We become chaste. Our times of entertainment and leisure reflect our love for God both in what we refrain from doing as well as that in which we participate. Even our standard of dress reflects our love for God by being moderately attired and not dressing in such a manner as to attact undue attention.
Second, we love our neighbor, and everyone is our neighbor. This includes people in other countries that we will never see or meet. In our modern age of global technology, we cannot ignore the plight of our neighbors across the world. This means we will do all we can to see that they have the same necessities we do. After all, we are called to love them as much as we love ourselves. Therefore, they must have the necessary food, drink, shelter, clothing, education, employment, and health care that we want for ourselves. To do this, we will find it necessary to curb our own indulgence so that we will have something to give for them. Furthermore, we must work to raise the awareness of others to their plight so that necessary laws will be passed to allow them these things as well. And while we are focusing somewhat on nations overseas, let us not forget that these same issues exist right in our own neighborhoods as well. It is our obligation to get our heads out of the sand and find out how we can help.
Finally, we come with a message; the message of the Gospel- that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men's sins against them. It is the message of reconciliation. It is the means by which those who have made themselves the enemies of God through their sins are brought back to Him through the message of the cross. Once reconciled, they now find peace with God in their hearts and experience His love shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.
All of these elements must be in place for the world to take notice that we are indeed Christians. Without one of these things, the message is skewed. Quite frankly, I think this is a great reason why so few in the world do take notice of the Church. We don't live like we believe it. Why should they? So we can see the great need for these stumbling blocks to be removed. Let it begin individually with me and you. And let us pray that more will follow so that the world will behold the love of God in us and know we are indeed Christians. May they who see us come and join us for the glory of God in our Lord Jesus Christ!