I was recently watching an old reality show. I've never watched it regularly, though I have seen a few episodes. It featured a cast of women, a few of whom openly professed their faith in Christ. By the second episode, I was cringing every time they showed these believers. I'm sure they thought they were sharing Christ with their cast mates, but all I could do was pray that somehow God had used them. I could not see how.
We read about the apostle Paul facing an equally awkward scene:
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.Let's get this straight, there is a wrong way to proclaim Jesus. It's part of the reason the body of believers is facing some of the challenges we have today. A friend recently told me about an encounter he had with an unbeliever. The unbeliever told him the biggest problem he had with church is the hypocrisy. I can't blame the guy for thinking this way. I, too, have been hurt by believers whose actions didn't match their statements of faith, and I know I have been the one to hurt others this same way. We've missed the proverbial forest for the trees.
(Acts 16:16-18, NIV)
What is the answer? As it so often is, it's Jesus. When we draw close to Jesus we learn the compassion He had for those who were "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). We learn the forgiveness He had for people like the woman caught in adultery, and we will say that we don't condemn people as we encourage them to "go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11). The answer is not to judge more. It is to love more. More love for those who don't know Christ. More love for those who've been proclaiming Christ wrong.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.(1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV)
May we love more and clang less.