Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In The World But Not Of The World

So, I went to a bar the other night. There. I said it. For the first time in fifteen years I went to a bar and it was exactly as I remember. Nothing about the bar scene has changed. It’s sad really. It’s just a new generation of people living life exactly as I was fifteen years ago, lost and broken. Maybe not all of them, but I will bet it is certainly a majority of them.

For those that know me well, you know that I made a decision about six years ago to get rid of cable television in my home. It had a lot to do with money but for us it also had to do with what I want for my family. The temptation for me to use it as a babysitter is way too real because of the circumstances so I decided to remove the temptation and at the same time, loosen my budget for more important things. I also made this decision because I really want to spend time with my family engaged in meaningful, active relationship not in front of the television where no one says a word to each other. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times that we choose to sit in front of a TV for six hours watching Jack Bauer save the world as we did this past Saturday, but those are few and far between. Friday nights are also family movie night for us where we pick a movie, pop some popcorn and hang out on the couch together for a couple of hours and that has become a family tradition for us.

But rather than getting on my soapbox about television I want to tell you what I learned from my experience at the bar. I tell you about the TV because my rationale for going to a bar was to watch some football. To watch South Carolina whip Vanderbilt!!!! I met a couple of girlfriends there and we had lots of fun catching up and watching the game together. As soon as I walked in the door, there were a group of guys who started to flirt a little. If I am completely honest, it made me feel good. It has been a long time since someone has flirted with me, but fortunately I know that is not where my validation comes from. Fortunately who I am in Christ and how he sees me is way more important than what these boys were seeing. But that was not the case fifteen years ago. Back then all of the things that these boys were saying to me would have worked. Now, I just found them shallow. So, after about an hour of what he considered “pick up lines” I had enough. I was honestly disgusted and was really ready to go somewhere and enjoy my time with my girlfriends alone. But something really started to bother me. I could not walk away from this and not once mention my faith. You see, he probably thought that I just wasn’t interested. It happens. I am sure that he has been turned down more than once. But I wanted him to know that I wasn’t turning him down because I wasn’t attracted to him. I was turning him down because I am so attracted to Jesus and I didn’t see Jesus anywhere in this man’s life. So I began to share my faith with him. I must regretfully admit this is a first for me. Usually I just walk away from uncomfortable situations but for some reason this time I couldn’t.

So here’s the interesting part. As soon as I started to share my faith with him, he responded with “Oh I am a Christian too, I go to...” and he went on to mention the church that he attends every Sunday. What escaped from my mouth next really took me by surprise and may or may not have been appropriate but it came out before I could control my tongue. “If you really are a Christ follower, then why are you at this bar getting drunk and trying as hard as you can to get me to go home with you? Isn’t that your ultimate goal here?” His response of course was that was not what he was doing. Really? Give me a break I wasn’t born yesterday and he confirmed it because he didn’t stick around much longer. About 20 minutes later he had moved on to another woman at the bar who was a lot more receptive and a lot more intoxicated.

This is what Jesus was talking about when he said be in the world but not of the world. This is what he meant when he said that you would know his followers by the fruit that they bear. You see this guy was claiming to be a Christian but from what I could see he most certainly did not bear the fruit of Christ. He was claiming to be a Christian but was in the world and very much of the world.

As I have had time to process the evening I have become very aware and saddened by the countless number of people out there who say they are Christians but don’t represent Jesus appropriately. No wonder we have so many people who are confused and turning their backs on Christianity. If this is what I thought Jesus looked like, I wouldn’t want any part of it either. This incident has honestly caused me to take a deep look at myself and ask the question: Am I representing Jesus in my life? I can honestly say that the answer is sometimes no. When I get angry at my children and shout at them. When I hear something from someone that I am really not a part of and go to my girlfriends and tell them about it. What about you? If you honestly assess your life, can you say that you represent Jesus in every area?

So what now? For me, I have committed myself to working on these areas that don’t bear the fruit of Christ through prayer and repentance and of course through my own conduct. My prayer is that those of us who call ourselves Christ followers will be shining examples of Jesus to a hurting and broken world.

Matthew 5:14-16

14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

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