Communicating the Gospel with my Lifestyle

Today I read all of 1 Peter and Chapter 8 in the book Integrity. It is awesome sometimes reading a whole book of the bible in context to get the big themes of the book. In Peter, his central message is living a life that represents the gospel. We are to live holy lives that cause others to notice and inquire instead of a non-holy one where they dismiss and accuse us of being hypocrites. Peter spend a lot of time explaining what that life looks like and includes things like how we work with others, how we live in this world, our respect of the government, how we treat our bosses (slave masters in this case), how we treat our spouses, how we live together, etc. In all of this he points out that God is the judge not us and we need to live at peace with everyone as much as possible.

What is fascinating about this is that it is so relevant to today. In the world of blogs and instant news reports, people are definitely watching to see if our lifestyle lives us to what we say we believe. The media loves to build people up and then look for ways to tear them down in order to build sensational news stories. There are bloggers who dissect every word that is said and how we live our lives is written about and displayed for all the world to see. As I sit here in Starbucks writing this I am thinking about my own life and what people would say my lifestyle says about my faith. What areas would they find to quibble with? Where does my walk not match my talk? What a convicting concept. When you think about Peter is literally saying that how I live could effect someone’s picture of Christ and their desire to pursue or ignore him. That is why I really believe that there are two aspects of discipleship, an individual aspect which relates to my walk with God and the personal spiritual disciplines, beliefs, etc. and lifestyle discipleship which includes how I live at work, home, with my wife, my kids, etc. These two things should go hand in hand which is what I think was James’ point from yesterday.

I see so many people who have no level of self awareness and just go about life destroying the name of Christ in the name of defending the faith. These people have so compartmentalized their faith down to a narrow set of rules and what should be said that they evaluate everything from that perspective without realizing the attack and angry style they use to convey those “truths” gives away their blindness to the lifestyle piece. They can’t see how angry they have become and how the issues have become more important than people. Still others just compartmentalize their faith period. They figure that God is one part of their lives and the rest is their to do with as they wish. They have no way to tell that their behavior is not matching what they say they believe. So the world looks at them and figures that God really only impacts one’s schedule and they don’t need another meeting in their lives. They are doing just as good with their lives as this person who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ. What a convicting thought when you really think about it. My prayer is that my lifestyle line up with what I say I believe and whom I serve. I don’t want to bring shame on the name of Christ by how I live. I know I fail over and over again at this but I also know that I need to admit my failure, confess it and learn from it. Then I will represent the grace and forgiveness that Christ has given me. Be honest about who I am and live my message of the gospel instead of just talking about it, that is what I need to focus on today.

Lord, help me to be a living example of the gospel to others in this world. Help me not to shrink back from talking about my faith but also help me not to fall into the trap of thinking evangelism is all about talking or arguing a point. Help me not to compartmentalize my life but rather be who I am in all situations. Give me greater self awareness. Amen.
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