Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’re the only Bible some people will read”? It’s a reminder to us that people will judge Jesus based on us. They won’t necessarily read the Bible, but will see if God’s Word has any bearing on our lives. As I’ve been preparing for my sermon at The Well, our 9:30 worship, I was reminded that Paul says to the Philippians (in Phil. 3:17) “Join with others in following my example…”. Paul is not saying to be exactly like him. As a matter of fact, we just covered last week at The Well that Paul had just said that he was not perfect.
What we have to remember is that when Paul said this people didn’t have the New Testament to tell them about Jesus. Paul couldn’t say, “Go read what I wrote in Corinthians”. All he had was, “As I’m focusing my life on proclaiming Jesus and striving to be like Him, watch me and do likewise”.
Even though the Bible is now readily accessible in America, we still have the same issue today. Non-Christians still judge Jesus and God’s Word by us, His people. And as much as we’d like to say, “I’m not yet perfect, don’t be like me”, the truth is if we have no credibility with the lost and unchurched, neither does what we say or believe about Jesus.
This means if Christian parents love their kids, they need to make more “Christ-like” decisions in their own lives because the kids are watching and will emulate. This means that pastors need to be above reproach. This means that people who call Jesus their Savior need to strive to be more like Him and not just schlep it off as “I’m not perfect, just forgiven”. I don’t like that phrase and I blogged about that two years ago. You can read it here. As Paul reminds us, people will judge Jesus by His people. And if Jesus can’t change people and put them on a path toward being more like Him, He’s not all that powerful now, is He? (And this isn’t a blog for us to judge others in the church, but to judge ourselves).
“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” ~ Francis of Assisi