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Act Like a Christian

by Mark Nickles  
10/15/2012 / Christian Living

It is a sad truth that, today more than ever, the label of "Christian" does not necessarily mean a person will act (or even be expected to act) like Jesus Christ. This truth lies at the root of the problem of how the world looks at the church, today. Though none of us will ever be without sin while in our fleshly bodies, God's word makes it clear that those who would call themselves followers of Christ are expected to live by a standard which is markedly different from that of the world. (Matt. 5:13-14, 1 John 2:15-17)

Even in the Bible Belt, where I live, people often see themselves as part of the last bastion of truly Christian people in the U.S. But, ANY who have such a mindset, I believe, may have confused conservative leanings and "old-fashioned" values for biblical Christianity.

Some may have already stopped reading this ridiculous column by now, but for those who have endured, let me ask a few questions which will likely illustrate my point.

1) When was the last time you said or did something kind for someone in response to open hostility?

We are told in Matthew 5:43-48 that when the Christ-follower is treated wrongly, we are to love, bless and pray for those who do so. Yet, even God's people often revert to the ways of the world, while spouting justifications such as, "They got what they deserved", "I don't have to take that", "I'll give them a piece of my mind", or the like. Those responses fly in the face of what Jesus instructed. Can you imagine the pause it may give someone, or how it may even change their perceptions, if you were to pay them a compliment, or do something nice for them after they had insulted you in some way? I can hear it now: "Oh, Mark, how silly! Who does that?" Only the person who takes the example of Jesus seriously. And such a response would prove how rare that is in our day.

2) When was the last time you sacrificed something you wanted for something someone else wanted or needed?

Let's say you made a commitment to perform a task or service. Perhaps a friend needs help moving, requires a ride to the doctor's office, or needs help with a particular bit of homework. After committing to lend a hand, an opportunity arises for you to see a college ballgame, or attend a movie with friends. Maybe your day has simply been more tiring than you expected, and the commitment has become an extra hassle. How does the Christian respond in light of Matthew 22:39, in which Jesus says we should love our neighbor as ourselves, or Matthew 20:26-28, where the follower of Christ is instructed to seek the status of servant rather than the one served? It is obvious from a biblical standpoint that we are to seek the well-being of others over our own, much less our desires for fun and pleasure.

3) Lastly, let's imagine this scenario: You're at a local sporting event, cheering on your home team, when a referee makes a perceived or actual bad call. Or, the coach or a member of the opposing team acts in an unsportsmanlike way. I've heard some of the screaming responses from fans (and often, myself) and so have you. We've all been in the position of letting our passion and/or anger take control of us, instead of being in control of ourselves. Colossians 4:6 speaks directly to these situations, as it tells us, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Additionally, James 1:26 says, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." It is obvious that our commitment to Christ and his ways MUST be proven, in part, by our speech.

God's people are going to slip up from time to time, but there can be no doubt that, as a matter of course, we are to sound and behave differently from everyone else. Otherwise, how will people see the difference Jesus makes in a person's life?

God can help you demonstrate love, mercy and grace in your everyday life, so that you can be the Christian he wants you to be. If you call yourself a Christian, for the sake of those around you, BE one!

Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.

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