Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 149, Ruth 4:1-22, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10, Matthew 6:1-6
In television’s Game of Thrones, a tyrannical, tantrum-prone prince named Joffrey assumes the throne and becomes angry when his court doesn’t seem to take him seriously. In frustration he screams “I am the king!” His grandfather Tywin interrupts him with a now famous line: “Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king.”
Might we substitute “Christian” for “king?”
Jesus told his disciples to pray in private and give alms (donations to the poor) without drawing attention: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Flashy charity and public, wordy prayers were the habits of hypocrites.
We want to share the Gospel, but we must be careful not to blur the lines between evangelism and self-congratulations. The Good News is not that we have learned to condemn or avoid certain behaviors and people, or that we know who is going to heaven or hell. The Good News is not even that we live better lives. The Good News is that Jesus offers redemption to all who would accept it. If the message we’re spreading doesn’t express Christ’s love to Christians and non-Christians alike, we’re not evangelizing … we’re propagandizing.
Ever heard someone offer a compliment like: “So-and-so has money, but it’s ok because they don’t act like it?” That usually means the person is perceived as humble instead of snobby (or other negative traits fairly or unfairly associated with wealth). If someone said you were a Christian, but it was OK because you didn’t act like it, what would you think they meant? Probably they would mean you seemed humble and loving instead of self-righteous, condemning, or other negative associations we have fairly and unfairly earned. Would that be so bad?
Proclaiming ourselves Christians is not the same thing as proclaiming Christ. Of Christ we may and should speak boldly. Declaring ourselves his followers is and should be a humbling experience of being in service to others because we have been forgiven as much and more as anyone else.
Comfort: The evidence of your faith is written on your heart.
Challenge: Live so that people are drawn to the light that inspires you.
Prayer: I am the humble servant of Christ. Amen.
Discussion: If the word “Christian” didn’t exist, how would you explain your faith?
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