In my last blog I finished with the statement, “My consistency and that of the Christian community to a gospel life style should be the first line of defence against assaults on Christian values and principles.”
A number of people have responded to me with regard to that comment. It struck a chord. Christians are apt to accuse the world of persecuting them (and it does) but we often forget, particularly in the West, that our greatest witness is our life style, and in the last few decades that has been badly tarnished. We have had the disturbing litany of fallen televangelists, abuse of children in Christian institutions, corruption, unedifying bickering and … sadly, the list goes on. I haven’t even mentioned my own poor personal example to the neighbourhood in which I live.
Those of us who are old enough will remember the ’60s song “We are one in the Spirit“. It ends with the chorus, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” In John 13:34 Jesus gives his disciples a new command: “Love one another” and he adds in verse 35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love, agape love – sacrificial, giving not expecting in return love, is to be the badge of the Christian.
Two thousands years later it is still a difficult task for us. We are good at making our views heard on a whole range of social and moral issues. But often these voices are strident, judgmental and graceless with no sense of the compassion that Christ showed a fallen world.
Maybe we, and I certainly include myself, need to go back to basics. We need to go back to the attitude of grace that God called his children to have and show. So when we are persecuted or martyred or pilloried in the media, we would hope that what the world sees is not the hissing of people like cornered snakes, but the face of a Christlike family of people who share the grief of their master for a fallen world.