Have you ever considered the fact that you are the greatest Christian some people will ever meet in their whole life?
That question is not meant to lay guilt on any of us. None of us are perfect. But it’s important to step back occasionally and take an honest assessment of how we’re really living.
The latest Barna study says that about eight out of ten people in America who profess to be followers of Christ live absolutely no different than their non-Christian counterpart. It’s no wonder that we have a generation of people that are disillusioned with the Church and organized religion.
What I commonly hear non-Christians say is, “I’m not against God. I’m not even against Jesus, but when I’ve been in church situations and I meet religious people who claim to profess they’re Christians, the disconnect between their lifestyle and their beliefs is often so deep I don’t trust their faith at all.”
At one time in my life, I could relate. When I was growing up, my parents weren’t Christians. We went to church occasionally but what I saw was not authentic Christianity. I saw lots of hypocrisy. People’s lives weren’t reflecting what the very words of Jesus taught. Soby the time I was fifteen or sixteen, I had already decided that I was done with God and done with the church.
This is why our lifestyle as Christians matters!
When Christians actually live like Christians, we give greater credibility to the gospel. But when Christians say one thing and live another way, we undermine the credibility of the gospel.
The Apostle Paul talked about this in his letter to a young pastor named Titus who was pastoring a church on the island of Crete.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
God has wired us to want to make a difference – to “do good” with our lives. So what does it look like to “do good” in the world?
It doesn’t mean just being a nice person. It means allowing the Spirit of God to produce a lifestyle that is radically good. It’s about a mindset and a thought life where you are literally allowing the Spirit of God to affect how you live, how you think, and how you relate to others both inside and outside the Church. This means that doing good works are acts designed specifically to benefit other people and reveal the characteristics of God.
Doing good doesn’t get you right with God, but those who are right with God always end up doing good because of who lives inside of them.
So how about you? Are you letting the light of your good works shine? How are you doing at consistently living out what you say you believe?
To learn more about why doing good matters so much, check out Chip’s group study Doing Good: What Happens When Christians Live Like Christians.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip