Monthly Archives: October 2012

Are you wearing a costume or a uniform?

As we think about putting costumes on, it is a great time to consider the difference between wearing a costume and wearing a uniform. Is there a difference? Most of us would like to think that we go through life wearing uniforms, not costumes.  As Christians, we ought to know the difference and why it matters.

In ancient Greece, the word Hypocrinomai meant “to answer” or “interpret.” So an actor, a “hypocrite,” might “interpret” what a poet or playwright had written, and then act it out to the audience. Eventually, the word was applied to something much worse. A hypocrite became one who was presenting a false face (play acting) to the world.

Those who wear costumes in life are “play acting,” whereas those who wear uniforms should be presenting a truth about themselves. The Christian’s uniform consists of: a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6).

I have identified 3 basic differences between a uniform and a costume.

1)  Uniforms identify what kind of work we do. Those wearing costumes aren’t required to do anything. We wouldn’t want to have surgery from the doctor who says, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on T.V.” No one expects a “play actor” wearing a costume to be competent at that trade.

2)  Uniforms identify who our employer is. Those wearing costumes aren’t answerable for their behavior. If a house were burning down, no one would run up to a child dressed in a fireman’s outfit on Halloween and ask them why they were trick or treating instead of stopping the fire!

3)  Uniforms identify that we have made a decision. Those wearing costumes can change on a whim. You might already be considering what you will dress up as for next year. But the Christian doesn’t change their uniform.

What about you? Are you wearing a costume or a uniform? Do you present one face to the world while secretly hiding your true identity from others? Do you merely wear a costume of Christianity or the real uniform? If you are a Christian, consider what kind of work you do, who your “employer” is, and whether your decision to wear that uniform is final.

Evangelistic Beatings?

A 22 year old homosexual man recently claimed that, in an effort to “help” him, members at a NC church held him down and hit him and screamed at him and locked him in a room after knocking him unconscious. The church denies this and says that they knew nothing of his being homosexual and that they merely gave him a place to stay because he was thrown out of his parents’ house for rebellious behavior. This particular church has faced allegations of harassment and child abuse before.  Their founder was even convicted of abusing a congregant once, though the conviction was later overturned. I pray the investigations will disclose the truth, but perhaps there is something we can learn from this sad situation.

When I read of things like this happening, I wonder, what makes someone go from proclaiming the good news to alleged violence? And what is the proper way to evangelize those who don’t want to change their ways? Have you ever gotten so frustrated with someone rejecting Christ that you wanted to scream…or worse? If you have shared the gospel enough, you will experience deep sadness and grief, but violence is never the Christ-like answer. History is full of people who went horribly wrong when good intentions turned to violence.

Christians are to be truth proclaimers, not truth sheriffs. As frustrated as we get with sin, there is no way to force others to love God. Jesus commanded His disciples to shake the dust off their feet if people reject the word (Luke 9:5). Though it broke his heart, Paul obeyed this in Acts 18:6 and elsewhere. Proclaiming the gospel can be very personal and very painful. One of the most challenging aspects of being a Christian is to hate the choices we often make, yet love ourselves and others. We must love others, even in their rejection of the word leading to eternal separation from God.

I pray that isn’t the case with you or your loved ones, but if so, please let me know how I can help. I promise to always try to teach in truth and in Spirit, with love, as we seek God’s guidance.

Cheering for Evil?

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” was shouted as the queen entered the Renaissance Fair on student day. Thousands of children eagerly awaited the jousting match that was framed as a “battle between good and evil.” As chance would have it, we were sitting on the side of the evil knight. It wasn’t our choice, of course; we just happened to sit where the sun wasn’t in our eyes. Nevertheless, we found ourselves being told to cheer for the evil knight! And if we didn’t cheer loud enough, Renaissance “cheer leaders” commanded that we cheer louder!

Of course, this was all for fun, but here are 3 observations from a jousting match:

1)    Most people just wanted to see the joust and didn’t care who was good or evil. This joust was merely for entertainment, but in life jousts happen every day between good and evil. Light and dark have always been divided in the bible (1 John 1:5) and we must decide which side we will cheer to victory;

2)    The evil knight was the bad guy. He was rude, he lied, and he cheated. Yet, we were supposed to cheer for him! The word of God tells us what is pleasing to the Lord, but so often in life we are encouraged to support causes that come into conflict with His plan. We are to do good (2 Thessalonians 3:13) and avoid every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22);

3)    Many kids didn’t seem to know who was going to win! The answer should have been obvious.  The evil knight had promised school would start at noon, there would be no more homework, and dessert would come first in every meal. There was no way he could win! And yet, there were disappointed children who were holding out hope for his fantasy promises. There is no question in scripture about which promises are reliable and who wins in the end (John 16:33).

As you go through this week, watch out for ways that the world is blurring the
differences between good and evil, cheering for evil, and trusting in false hope. Then give them an alternative. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life!

A Bad Role Model…

Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to “30 to 60” years in prison for abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He could have faced 400 years of consecutive punishment, but at 68 years old, Sandusky was simply told that he would be in prison for the ‘rest of his life.’ The boys who were the victims of the abuse testified about the anger, sadness, and pain they had experienced. But the thing that struck me the most about their testimony was their disappointment at the behavior of a man who should have been a role model. One of them testified, “You were the person in my life who was supposed to be a role model, teach honor, respect, and accountability, and instead you did terrible things…”

It is obvious, of course, that there are certain malicious, horrendous acts that are considered evil by most people in the world today. None perhaps is worse than child molestation. Even in countries where trafficking of children takes place, traffickers know that the behavior is evil and it must be done in secret. But for the rest of us, those who try to do good and be a good role models in life, what can we learn from this young person’s statement?

Jesus told his disciples that it would be better for a heavy millstone to be hung around someone’s neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea than for them to have been involved in causing a young person to stumble in their belief about Him (MT 18:6). It is important to note this passage comes directly after Jesus said that we are all supposed to become like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (MT 18:3-4). Those who are innocent like children, and especially the lost and those who are immature in the faith, deserve great role models. Christians are basically divided into 2 categories: mature and immature. Hebrews 5:12-6:6 clearly teaches the goal of all Christians needs to be maturity in the faith as soon as possible. So please think on these thoughts today…

Where are you in the faith? Are you a recent convert or immature in the faith? If so, what are you doing to mature? Are you a mature Christian? If so, what are you doing to help others and be a good role model? We must be ever vigilant to check and see what our example is teaching others. Never underestimate the impact you have on God’s children.

As always, If I can help you in any way, please let me know.