#225: The Insidious Gap Between What We Say and What We Do

Gandhi reportedly said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Gap

An agnostic coworker once said to me, “I’d be more interested in Christianity except I’ve met some Christians.”

Ouch! What’s wrong with this picture?

Is it possible Christians are not living out their faith on a daily basis? Is it possible this happens often enough that people are actually turned away from following Christ?

It certainly seems so. A recent Barna Research study found only 17% of professing Christians have a Biblical worldview.

For the purpose of this study a Biblical worldview was defined as believing:

1) there is absolute moral truth;

2) the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches;

3) Satan is real, not just symbolic;

4) good works are not sufficient for salvation;

5) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; and

6) God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe.

No wonder those outside the Christian faith look inside and doubt us!

It turns out the vast majority of professing Christians either don’t know what the Bible teaches or they don’t accept the basics of the faith. Either way, it follows they won’t live out their faith according to Biblical teaching!

No wonder Gandhi said, “your Christians are unlike your Christ.”

Yet, being like Christ is exactly what we are commanded to be.

  • Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)
  • And writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

There is no wiggle room here. As Christians, we are commanded to be imitators of Christ.

Clearly, there is a gap between what we as Christians are supposed to be like, and the way the way we live. That gap is what the world sees. It is how the world evaluates our faith life. It is why they say Christians are hypocrites.

We Are to be Salt and Light

Jesus commanded us to be salt and light to the world.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Salt is a preservative, but if it becomes impure, it loses its ability to preserve. We are to be like pure salt that preserves the Lord’s teaching. If we become impure by accepting a secular worldview our teaching is of no value to the Kingdom.

A light provides direction and enables you to walk securely without stumbling. If the light is hidden under a basket, it is of no use. A Christian who hides their faith is of no use in bringing light to others.

One kind of Christian has an impure faith, one corrupted by the world’s values, so it is useless.

The other kind of Christian has a solid understanding of their faith but they hide their faith from others, so it is useless.

Jesus’ command is that we be like pure salt and a bright light. If we are like pure salt, we will preserve the faith. If we are a light that shines before others, they will see our good works, and be drawn to the Father.

Leaders, It Must Start with Us

Leaders, it must start with us. Our pastors cannot do it all by themselves.

It was never God’s plan to spread the Gospel just through our pastors. God’s plan for spreading the Good News doesn’t just include us; it depends on us.

We are called, every one of us as children of God, to be salt and light to the world. So, let’s get out there and live our lives in such a way that others see Christ reflected in us, and because of Him living in us, others are drawn to the Father in Heaven!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How are you living your life to be a salt and light leader?

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Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

 

#209: You and I are on a Journey to God Knows Where!

Have you ever been lost? You know where you want to end up, but you don’t know where you are, and you’re not sure how to get where you want to go?

Journey

I’ve been that lost. Just a few years ago, before cars with GPS, I was driving to meet a co-worker early in the morning. The sun was up, but the fog was so thick it was nearly dark. I lost my sense of direction and got completely turned around. Instead of driving north to the meeting place, I had turned south. I didn’t realize my error until I saw the Pacific Ocean in front of me!

When I was a young lad in Boy Scouts, I learned to hike a specific route through the woods out and back using a compass. I plotted a course out to the destination and followed the compass. After arriving at my destination, I plotted a course using the compass back to camp. With my compass, I never got lost. Without it, I would probably still be wandering around in the Idaho woods.

Life is like that. We make our plans. But then, like when I was lost in the fog, we get turned around and head off in the wrong direction. We plot our course. But without a compass (or a GPS) we get lost and wander about never reaching our destination.

There is good news. As pastor Kurt Johnston said in a sermon recently, “When you don’t know where you’re headed, God knows where He is taking you.” We do not have to get lost on our journey through life. God has given us the ultimate compass; the Holy Spirit to guide our lives and His Word to direct our path.

Many thanks to Pastor Kurt Johnston of Saddleback Church for giving me permission to adapt his sermon to this blog article!

We Don’t Know Where God is Taking Us

The challenge for us is we often don’t know where God is taking us. That makes us nervous and sometimes scared to death. Humanity has always been like that.

Remember the story of Esther? God placed her in a position to become queen and save the people of Israel from extermination. She had no idea where her life was headed, or where she would end up, but God knew exactly where He was taking her.

Gideon was the least of his tribe, and his tribe was the smallest of all the Israelite tribes. Yet God called Gideon to lead their army to victory over their enemies (Judges 6-8). Gideon was so skeptical God was calling him, he asked God for proof—twice!

David was the youngest of his family when God called him to be king. Do you think David had any idea what lay ahead in his life? Fighting Goliath. Being befriended by King Saul then hunted by him? Traitors and insurrection arose from within his own family. Yet David was the king who united the tribes of Israel. David, the young shepherd boy, had no idea where the Lord was taking him.

We see this and similar scenarios repeated throughout the pages of scripture. Sometimes people question where they are going. Sometimes they head off in the wrong direction (Jonah). Sometimes they doubt God is calling them.

Through it all, God knows exactly where He is taking us.

How to Get to Where God Wants Us to Go

Pastor Kurt offered three tips for getting to where God wants us to go.

1) Embrace the ambiguity of life. We want to have all the answers. We crave the certainty of knowing what comes next. But God is perfectly comfortable leading us one step at a time because He knows that’s all we can handle.

Jesus told the disciples not to worry but to seek God, saying “…do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34).

2) Persevere through adversity. Everyone faces adversity in their lives. Successful people persevere through adversity to achieve God’s best.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to persevere saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

3) Rest in His authority. There is no circumstance in this life that can derail God’s plan.

When he finally recognized God’s sovereignty “…Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1-2).

Our Journey as Leaders

Make no mistake. God has a plan for every one of us. We may not know where God is taking us, but He does.

As leaders, we must set an example for those who follow. We must embrace life’s uncertainties knowing that God cares for us. We must persevere through any and all adversity knowing that God will never abandon us. And we must accept and rest in God’s sovereign authority.

Remember, you and I are on a journey to God knows where! Even when we don’t know where we’re headed, God knows where He is taking us.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned where God was leading you? How did you feel at the time? Did you face adversity? Did you rest in the assurance of God’s plan?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

 

 

#070: The Importance of a Personal Leadership Philosophy

In the last week, I’ve had two people (one younger, and one more seasoned) ask me for advice on how to maintain Christian values in a secular marketplace. The answer to both was exactly the same: begin by establishing a personal leadership philosophy.

Philosophy

A leadership philosophy consists of a set of beliefs that describe: what you believe about people, what you believe about life, and what you believe makes people and organizations most effective.

There are at least four reasons why establishing a personal leadership philosophy is important for every Christian leader:

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#049: Our Most Important Role as Christians in a Secular Marketplace

As leaders, we have a number of roles we fulfill in our businesses. We establish vision and mission, make strategic decisions, hire and fire, train and develop, coach, and so on. But there is one role that is more important for us as Christian leaders in a secular marketplace, and that is as ambassadors!

Reconcile

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said:

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

What exactly does it mean to be an ambassador? In our modern political world, we hear in the news about ambassadors to foreign countries. These political ambassadors are official envoys, diplomats, whose role is to represent the country where they reside to the country they are assigned.

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#014: What is our purpose? What on earth are we here for?

There’s a pretty popular book called Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren that delves into our purpose as God’s children. You may have heard of it—I’ve lost count of how many millions of copies have been sold in umpteen languages. This book is popular because it deals with one of the most common questions people have, “What is my purpose in life?”

Reconcile, Fiasco

The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, uses two doctrinal terms that are very important if we are to understand our purpose in life as believers: reconciliation and imputation.

 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NKJV)

18  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
19  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Reconciliation

  • Because of his rebellion, man was out of fellowship with God.
  • Reconcile means “to change thoroughly” and in this case refers to the relationship between God and a fallen world.
  • God does not need to be reconciled to man because that work was accomplished by Christ work on the Cross.
  • Man needs to be reconciled to God. This reconciliation cannot be achieved through man’s works, but through Jesus Christ.

Imputation

  • Imputation means “to put to one’s account.”
  • When Jesus died on the cross all of our sins were imputed to Him or “put on his account.”
  • Additionally, Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us.

Application

What is our purpose? What on earth are we here for?

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.” We carry the message of reconciliation and imputation to the fallen world. This is the ministry that God has entrusted to us! What can you do today, this week, to engage in the ministry God has entrusted to you as one of His children?

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome.

Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion