Summary: How your witness, good or bad, affects the community around you.
The Letter to the Romans Chapter 2:17-29
“How is Your Living Witness?”
November 15, 2009
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and test in the law, and make your boast in God, And know [his] will, and approve the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teach another, teach you not yourself? You that preach a man should not steal, do you steal? You that say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? you that abhor idols, do you commit sacrilege? You that make your boast in the law, through breaking the law do you dishonor God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Who made free use of Christian vocabulary? He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity--with no inward reality!
Have you checked the labels on your grocery items lately? You may be getting less than you thought. According to U.S. News & World Report, some manufacturers are selling us the same size packages we are accustomed to, but they are putting less of the product in the box. For example, a box of well-known detergent that once held 61 ounces now contains only 55. Same size box, less soap.
How something is wrapped doesn't always show us what's on the inside. That's true with people as well. We can wrap ourselves up in the same packaging every day -- nice clothes, big smile, friendly demeanor -- yet still be less than what we appear to be.
A certain Irish priest, newly arrived in New York City, was walking through a bad section of town. He suddenly felt a gun against his ribs. Then he heard a voice, "All right mister, gimme your money!" Quickly the priest grabbed for his wallet. As he did, the holdup man noticed his clerical collar and realized he was robbing a priest. The thief was overcome with shame. He said, "Forgive me, Father. I didn't know you were a priest." To which the victim replied, "That's all right, Son. Just repent of your sin. Here, have a cigar." The thief replied, "Oh, no thank you, Father, I don't smoke during Lent."
Our Witness in the Community
Christianity has enough bad witnesses. We do not need to add to the fray. No matter what we do, we are witnesses, either good or bad, to the lost world or fellow Christians.
The incidents in churches in Gunter in the last year have rocked this community. I have had no less than 3 families tell me that the reason they are no longer going to church is because of these incidents. When I meet people and tell them I am pasturing a church here is Gunter, their expression changes in their face, as they wonder, “are you one of the churches that caused so much problem?” We, as a Church family, are the only untarnished church remaining in Gunter. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the community to demonstrate Christ like no other. We need to walk carefully.