Summary: Are we mindful of how we come across to unbelievers? Are we aware of how the unchurched look at those who call themselves Christians? It would serve us well to gain a better understanding about how important it is to present ourselves in the right way.
INTRODUCTION: We come to church and we’re mostly surrounded by “insiders” people who are Christians like us but how much consideration do we give to those who are still outside? Are we mindful of how we come across to unbelievers? Do we care how we present ourselves? Are we aware of how the unchurched look at those who call themselves Christians? It would serve us well to gain a better understanding about how important it is to present ourselves in the right way.
1) Why is it important to be a good example to outsiders?
• Because we are representing Jesus. 2nd Cor. 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” An ambassador is a representative. Jesus has ascended to heaven; his physical presence is no longer here. But, we who are followers of Jesus are here in his place. That means we are called to be a true representation of Jesus. We plead with people, on Christ’s behalf. In his stead. We are the voice of Jesus to the world. And in that our goal is not to draw attention to ourselves but to Jesus, whom we represent. In the world we act a certain way, talk a certain way and dress a certain way to draw attention to ourselves. When we are focused on being a good example, all of the above are done with a purpose to draw attention to Jesus. However, we can be a bad representative. When we act ungodly around outsiders, we are communicating a negative image; especially when the outsider knows we are a Christian. 1st Pet. 2:11-12. We accurately reflect Christ when we abstain from sin a live a good, wholesome life in the view of outsiders. This reminds me of Daniel 6, when Daniel’s enemies were trying to find something to discredit him before the king but they couldn’t; except when it had to do with his devotion to God. May it be said of us that the only thing anyone could say against us is that we’re Christians! Being a proper representation of Jesus dispels any accusation brought against us. That gets recognized. That is commendable. Think of how popular the politician would be if no one could dig up any dirt on him. When we are a true ambassador for Jesus we have integrity and character. This sets a good example for outsiders.
• Because people need to be saved. What am I doing to promote the gospel? What am I doing to hinder the gospel? I read a sermon where a minister stated these sobering words, “don’t give people an excuse to reject the gospel.” My bad behavior, my immodest appearance, my sour speech can stifle any effort I’m making to bring someone to Jesus. We may need to ask ourselves, “Am I drawing people closer to Jesus or pushing them further away?” We might act offensively in public and walk away thinking it was no big deal. “Oh, well, they don’t know me; I’ll probably never see them again anyway.” But what if, in the not so distant future, on some Sunday morning you saw one of those “insignificant” outsiders walk through the doors of our church? And then they see you and remember your example. Would it be no big deal then? We are all setting an example, we are all influential on some level; we all carry responsibility. Quote: “Those who set bad examples, though they may repent themselves, cannot be sure that those who they have drawn into sin by their example will repent. It is often otherwise.” We can mess up and come to our senses and repent but we can’t repent for anyone else. If I am a negative example, if I am a bad influence, if I cause my brother to stumble, I may repent but what if he doesn’t? I came to my senses but he’s continuing down the path of destruction. I can try to steer him back but what if he doesn’t listen? Ultimately we are each responsible for our own choices but we carry much responsibility as influencers. We can be responsible for another getting started down the wrong path. We need to count the cost, we need to understand the consequences; we need to recognize the damage caused by being a bad example.
2) What needs to change? First impressions are very important. They are important when interviewing for a job. They are also important for the Christian when we are out and about and in the visibility of others. What are some things that might need to change if we are going to make a good impression?
• Our appearance. How do we look to outsiders? Granted, we shouldn’t be more concerned about the outside of the cup than we are the inside but we should be concerned nonetheless. Appearance is important. Cleanliness is important. If your clothes are dirty that doesn’t make you dirty and vice versa but remember, in being a good example to outsiders I believe a healthy appearance goes far. I’m not saying focus on getting designer clothes and spend oodles of money making yourself look good. I’m talking about just simply being clean and well-kept. I’m also talking about modesty. 1st Tim. 2:9-10. 1st Pet. 3:1-6. The single ladies out there might be thinking, “I don’t have a husband so this doesn’t apply to me.” Even if you don’t have an earthly husband, you do have a heavenly one. You do have a master in heaven. Therefore, as a proper representative of Christ, we need to look the part. I’m not saying you need to dress like a Muslim or walk around in a burlap sack. But there needs to be a sense about the way we dress that asks the question-is what I’m wearing going to draw improper attention to myself? Again-we don’t have to stick out like a sore thumb, but we shouldn’t blend in with the world. I believe a young woman can dress stylishly without having to compromise her modesty. And this isn’t just for women; this applies to guys also.