IRONWOOD, MI – A number of weeks ago, I asked my congregation if they were arrested and charged with being a Christian, what in their life could a court use to convict them? This question has nothing to do with a works based salvation and everything to do with the reality of the past. For the past 2,000 years many Christians have faced that question and been found guilty. They were guilty not for what they believed, but for the results of those beliefs.
It is easy to say we believe. It is easy to claim the mantle and name “Christian.” But what is the outward expression of that faith, what is the result? As Paul described to the Ephesians in Chapter 4: 17, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” This is a call to action by Paul, reminding the Ephesian church they are no longer who they were, they are now Children of God, in Christ, which we see in verse 24, …” put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Our new lives in Christ result in our being separate from that which we were. As such, there should be an obvious difference between the old and the new. If there isn’t, we have to ask why? What are we doing to reject the call and separation from our old life? We are accepting of grace and eternal life, which we did not pay for, but slow to change on our end and live as called. Are we making good choices and living righteously so our deeds rise to God’s throne as a pleasant aroma or are we continuing as before?
So I ask again, what in your life could be used to convict you of being a Christian? Church attendance? I think not. Many who do not believe go to church and many who do have stopped. What about regularly tithing? I think not, many tithe without belief for status, family, and economic benefit. So, what in your life could be used against you because a judge and jury cannot see what we profess, but they can see the results.
So what might be enough for conviction? If there was evidence of care for widows and orphans, this would count against you as Christian behavior, but who does that anymore. What about loving your neighbor as yourself? This would be easy to figure out. Let the prosecutor interrogate the stranger we met last week. Their words might be enough to convict, although for most of us, we did not do anything but exchange empty platitudes. The Good News of Jesus went undelivered. If we remember John 13: 35, all people will know we are disciples of Jesus if we have love for one another. So we must reflect on our lives again, what evidence in my life could be used to convict me of being a Christian? Is there evidence I have love for others?
Most of us will need very little space to write those things in our life that a court could use to convict us of our faith. This is a major hole in our faith today and something we should immediately want to rectify. It is an easy fix; we just have to be willing to freely love others, without an expectation of return, to the glory of our Lord and Savior. Challenge your spouse and kids and church to live radical Christian lives, just as we are called. Often the only thing necessary for change is one person willing to be the first. This is our call, it is not a burden, it is a blessing to us and those around us, and a pleasing aroma to God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Minielly is a church planter and pastor of Catalyst Baptist Church, Upper Peninsula Association of Southern Baptists in Ironwood, MI.