As Christians we know that the term Christian comes with baggage. In the minds of people is an expectation of how they believe we are, how they believe we ought to be and how the Church has behaved throughout history. Commonly, this expectation is a low one.
We have an opportunity as Jesus followers in the modern era to help change the public perception of what it means to be a Christian into a view that is good, and even better, a noble one.
How can we do this?
First, we, as Christians, need to understand that most people don’t hold the same value set as us and no longer understand the biblical narrative or even believe in its truth and authenticity. We can argue the case for our claims (which is called apologetics ) but lets not get dragged into futile conflict and so damage the conversation.
Secondly, we need to take on board the teaching of Jesus and look to the example He set for us in how we interact with people. So often it is our behaviour that lets us down in the publics eye. As Gandhi once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Yes, the bar is high, but shouldn’t that spur us on to become better ourselves?
Thirdly, we must apply the truths we learn and use them in everyday, practical ways that help benefit not just us, but also those around us. As James, Jesus brother points out “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone looking in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
Throughout the first months of this new year, we as a church have looked at Jesus example as told through Mark, one of Peters contemporaries, who documented for us the life of Jesus through Peters experience. We are not just reading the “Bible”, we are reading an account of one mans lived experience, a section of biography, that seeks to show us just how influential Jesus was amongst His followers.
We have learned that all our efforts should come from a place of compassion for others as Jesus went from village to village proclaiming Good news, He met the needs of others because He cared.
We must understand how we are loved by God and that our works reflect His love for us demonstrated to the world by action. And this is proved by how the church is thriving across the country, despite media attention to the contrary.
We as a local church can thrive by being brave and courageous in sharing our faith with others. Not in an imposing way but rather in a proposing way. Let us be so compelling that people want to ask about how we live in peace, with joy, in all situations. Let us be a people that will step up and step outside of our comfort zones in order to bring a blessing to those who don’t know our Fathers voice.
Together we can change the world we live in, and change the perception of Christians so that more people will be open to know the love of God for themselves and experience the ‘Good News’ that Jesus came to earth to proclaim.