The real tragedy revealed
Recently I called a Christian friend and inquired if he could ask his foreman to make a few calls and see if he could help me find someone to clean up the hurricane damage at my plantation. I had one tree down and some limbs and debris that needed to be cleaned up. To my complete surprise, he curtly refused stating he was “too busy” cleaning up his own place (adjacent to my property), to bother with it. Keep in mind I did not ask him to have his employees clean it up, but to simply ask his foreman to please call some of the local workers and help find someone to do it. Since it was a ten-hour round-trip drive for me I thought, surely, he would help.
For whatever reason his claim to be a Christian made this much worse in my mind than if a secular person would have done it. Ever since I have known this man he has made such a big deal out of being a Christian and has told me countless times of what all he has done in that realm; after hearing him go on and on about it, one would think he was one of Christ’s disciples. The first thing that popped into my head after this behavior was, “How can you even call yourself a Christian?” His actions spoke much louder than his words.
Without question our behavior as Christians is the most effective tool of evangelism. Someone is always watching and when they see Christians doing the right things, be it sacrificing to help others that they don’t even know, or similarly helping their own families and friends, it has a positive impact. If they live a moral life and are filled with love, peace, and joy, it quite naturally makes others want to be a part of it. The Bible refers to it as letting your light shine, so others might see it.
Unfortunately, our behavior as a Christian is also the most effective way to turn folks away from evangelism and Christ. When you dig deep enough you will find that most atheists somewhere along the line had a very bad encounter with a Christian or Christians. In a case where it is impossible to discern your behavior as a Christian from a non-Christian, Christ is far better served if you were to hide the fact that you are a “Christian.” Because true Christians don’t behave in such a manner.
After his rebuff I called another Christian friend and he helped me line up three men to clean up the damage the very day after I called him and was happy to do it. You see it wasn’t Christianity that was to blame for this behavior, nor was it Christ. It was someone who purported to be a Christian but was not living it out.
Bad behavior is such a terrible example and I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I have been guilty time and again of doing the same thing. I remember one time I was counseling a guy about his excessive drinking and how alcohol was ruining his life. I was making real headway with him and he was even attending church. At the time I drank alcohol myself and often to excess, but I had not mentioned it to this man. I was hosting a party and we ran out of alcohol and I went to the grocery store to get more. I was wheeling a cart full of beer and wine when I came face to face with the guy I had been counseling. He looked down at the cart and then looked in my eyes and I could see HYPOCRITE written in them. I felt so terrible I cannot adequately express it.
I’ve done other stupid things like getting mad and using profanity and other non-Christian things in front of others and every time I do I feel terrible. I feel the worst about letting Jesus down. He sees it all and to me it is like I’m driving another nail in His beautiful hand when I mess up. Our behavior as Christians is living out our faith. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes and exhibit bad behavior. Fortunately, God forgives; however, others see it as an example of why they want nothing to do with Christ or Christians. And that my friends is the real tragedy.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.