We have a dear friend who had their identity stolen. The thief used our friend’s name to make a lot of unauthorized purchases. Sadly, the friend’s reputation was soiled because of somebody who did stuff in ‘their name’.
When we claim to be Christians, using the ‘identity’ of Christ but not living by the principals He set forth; we misrepresent Jesus to the world. The scripture instructs us to live a life that is Holy. (I Peter 1:15-16 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”)
It is often easy to set aside that standard and choose to take on the identity of the world in our attitudes, language and entertainment choices. An independent Barna survey taken in 2003 found that 8 out of 10 protestant Christians, by their OWN admission, did not apply the standards of the scripture to their personal lives.
The world watches us and judges Christ by our actions. In a 2005 article in Christianity Today (The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience; Why don’t Christians live what they preach?) George Barna was quoted as having concluded, “because Jesus’ modern-day disciples do not act like Jesus; this scandalous behavior mocks Christ, undermines evangelism, and destroys Christian credibility.”
We wonder why we don’t see more healing and miracles; yet we have no conviction to clean up our personal lives so a Holy God can be manifested through us. The lives of God’s people must line up with the holiness the scripture demands or we are an ineffective witness!
It’s not enough to say, ‘the church needs to be more Christ like’ because I’m the church. When I say, “I’m a Christian”, I can not continue to behave like the world while taking on the identity of Christ. The most influential witness is Jesus living through ME.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.