The Ark Community Church
How Will People Know You Are A Christian
My true inspiration to preach this message today was through a combination of things; reading about one of my favorite people in the Bible, reading things posted on Facebook and seeing or learning about the actions of Christians.
What was inspired were the following questions. I really started with … how will people know I am a Christian? Then it moved to how will people know that this is a Christian church? Which led to the title of this message how will people know you are a Christian?
How do people know:? Do people need to ask if you are a Christian? Do they know because of the cross you wear? Perhaps by the Christian t-shirt? The Jesus Fish on your car? Or by the bible verses posted in your office or house? Is it because they see you reading the Bible at lunch? Or saying grace quietly before a meal? Will they know from the religious status on your Facebook page?
Not that any of these things are bad, the problem I have is the next question, is this the way people should find out? Is this how people should find out and does it really let people know you are a Christian? Again my issue is not with these methods, it just seems that they aren’t very effective. Let’s face it we are not perfect … we are sinners, so we will make mistakes. Which then sends conflicting messages. For instance ... the Jesus Fish on the car shining bright in the sunlight as you cut someone off, or they cut you off and a little road rage flares up which kind of negates the whole message you are trying to send with the Jesus Fish on the back of the car. The cross or Christian symbol you are wearing and you are perhaps at a bar, a party and you drink a little too much and well, let’s just say again defeats the message behind the cross. Or you have the cross on or bible verses posted at work and then you are just as angry, miserable, complaining, gossiping as everyone else. Defeats the messages. Your Facebook status for religion – Christian and then there are postings stating things, or photos of the party where you perhaps drank too much … just not the right combination of messages.
Did one of my examples hit home for you? A slight twinge?
We are suppose to be set apart from this world, very different in aspects of our life as a believer, a disciple of Christ then those around us that are unbelievers. So if we are not that different how will people know we are Christians? They won’t, will they? And even if we do all the things I mentioned and they know we are Christians? Will they then in fact be turned away from Christ because they way we are living our lives is not different than theirs or maybe even worse?
We need to find a way, a simple way to show people we are disciples of Christ, and that the life of a Christian is different, very different than one based on this world. A way that leaves those around us having no doubt that we truly believe, follow and live for Christ. A way of living that causes people to see a different and better way.
There is an answer and it came directly from Jesus himself but before I give you His answer I want to share with you the other part that inspired me to start thinking about this, in my mind, my heart, and my soul.
One of my favorite people in the Bible, in Genesis, Joseph. Just to be sure everyone knows the story behind Joseph I will give you the short version. He was the son of Jacob, also known as Israel. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite because he was his first child from Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel. Joseph was treated special by Jacob and given a fine robe which did not sit well with his 10 older brothers. On top of that Joseph had two dreams which foretold of how he would rule over his brothers which added to his brother’s hatred of Joseph. The brothers end up selling Joseph as a slave to traders passing by and made up a story of Joseph being killed in order to tell their father Jacob. Joseph is sold to a high official in Egypt named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph who refuses, so she then accuses him of trying to seduce her so Joseph is thrown in jail. It eventually all works out when the Pharaoh has dreams, Joseph interprets the dreams and is place second in command of Egypt, saving Egypt from famine and then is reunited with his brothers and his father
I skipped a lot but it gives you the basics. I love this story because there is so much you can learn from it. So 13 years of suffering as a slave and in prison however, we never read of him complaining, whining, blaming, cursing God or anyone else. Instead as a slave and in prison he remained ever faithful and obedient to God
Genesis 39:1-6 (NIV)
39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Potiphar saw the Lord with Joseph. He knew the Lord was with him. Now we jump to the when Joseph is sent to prison.
Genesis 39:20-23 (NIV)
20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Both Potiphar and the prison warden saw that Joseph was different. They saw the presence of the Lord with Joseph. How cool is this, that Joseph’s faith, obedience, character is so focus on the Lord which comes through so clearly that people who don’t even believe in the Lord see the Lord at work. They see and experience the Lord working in Joseph’s life. How many of us can say that about ourselves? How many of us in life situations can say we don’t complain, gossip, get angry with God, and disobey God openly in front of others to see?
I think it is safe to say our situations are much better than having our own family sell us into slavery, become accused of a crime you did not commit and most likely know to be innocent … if Potiphar really thought Joseph was guilty he would have most likely had him executed … slavery, innocent of the crime and thrown into a prison. To me, reading this account again it opened my eyes, perhaps it is better to say opened my soul and desire to be like Joseph.
Don’t you want people to just see God at work in your life? To see the presence of the Lord, seeing that you live differently. Seeing that you have such a faith in and such a love for God. They don’t have to ask if you are a Christian. They don’t need to see the cross you wear around your neck or on your clothes or the Jesus fish on the car. All those external symbols are secondary because they see God in your life every day without question. And because of that they know you are a Christian.
So do you want to be like Joseph? Don’t you just want people to know you are a Christian by the way you live?
And I would pray that those who are members of this church would want to live this way. The great thing is Jesus gave us a command in which people would know that we were believers, disciples of Christ.
Jesus being a pretty smart guy realized that saying you are a Christian or having symbols would not speak loud enough to people. Jesus knew actions speak louder than words. And so the command he gave is found in John 13;
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Not just actions but specifically loving with the love that Christ has for us. A love not of this world but of God. A love that Christ said and showed … love your enemy. A love that Christ showed by dying on the cross in our place. An innocent man, known to be innocent yet punished so that we would be saved. Dying for us so that we may have life. A love that came from obedience to God. A love that came from a love of God.
Through our love of God and love of our Lord Jesus Christ may we love one another as Christ loves us. May that love pour out into every aspect of our lives. May we live like Joseph so that in every situation we may see and show the Lord at work. And by this without a doubt, without a question, without a symbol but by seeing and experience Christ in you and through you everyone will know you are a Christian.
That is my pray and hope for all of us and Christians everywhere.
AMEN'd this Sermon: