In this episode, both Warren and Sandra face difficulty living out their new found faith in their challenging work environments. Vince points out that the challenge to be light in the world isn’t just for those in crazy Vegas settings, but for all Christ followers in their daily settings. Read the passage to which he refers, Matthew 5:14-16, and the surrounding context of those sayings, then try to describe what you think Jesus meant by saying we are to be light and salt.
Notice how others recognize you as a Jesus follower. What communicates to others that you are a Christian? Don’t try to change anything. Just notice. As you interact with others, ask yourself, “Does this person see me as a Christian? If so, what about me indicates to them that I call Jesus my Lord?”
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Have you ever seen bad or misleading advertising? Maybe it was a restaurant that promised the “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” but … it wasn’t. In fact, the cup of coffee made you sick to your stomach. It may have been world’s worst cup of coffee! Or it was for a petrol station that promised “Clean Toilets” but you went in to the toilet and … it wasn’t. In fact, it looked like someone had just been in there who had drank the world’s worst cup of coffee!
You see some bad advertising, or some misleading advertising (where the product just doesn’t live up to the hype) and all it will do is turn you off to what it represents.
The problem is that followers of Jesus are supposed to represent Jesus, but too often what we’ve been is … bad advertising. The church is supposed to represent Jesus, but too often what we’ve been is … bad advertising.
The book unChristian referred to in the video gives some stark answers. The respondents viewed churchgoers as judgmental and hypocritical. They were turned off from Jesus by the very people who are supposed to represent him.
And young adults today aren’t the only ones. Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Today, as we continue our series God for the Rest of Us, I want us to think about people who have been turned off by the church. And I want you to know that God is for people who have been turned off by church.
YOU’RE THE ADVERTISING!
What is Jesus saying in Matthew 5? You’re the advertising. Right? As followers of Mine, you are salt and you are light.
What does salt do? It makes food taste better. It makes you thirsty. And Christians are supposed to make this world taste better, and make people thirsty for Jesus.
What does light do? It shines. It illuminates darkness. And Christians are supposed to shine God’s light, bring joy and hope to this world.
And what an honor that is! That God would choose for us to represent Him.
THE PROBLEM: BAD ADVERTISING
It’s a huge honor, but there’s a problem. The problem is when Christians are bad advertising.
Maybe you’ve experienced that, and maybe it’s turned you off.
Or maybe what turned you off was hypocrisy. And, really, if you think about a church leader misusing power, or people in a church being judgmental, or a church being boring, they’re all actually examples of hypocrisy, of a church not living out what they claim to believe. Maybe you’ve seen lots of examples of it. And maybe, for some of you, it’s turned you away from the church.
If so, it may encourage you to know Jesus was just as turned off by hypocrites as you. In fact, the idea of this series is that so many people think of God as being harsh or distant, but Jesus showed us that God is actually full of love and grace, even for people who screw up, even for sinners. Jesus was just absolutely, unapologetically patient with people, and compassionate.
I wonder if you struggle with hypocrisy?
See, the problem is you can follow the letter of the law, and so on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside still be filled with wickedness. And so what you really are is a hypocrite.
Hypocrites care about being right. Jesus cares about being loving.
What do you care about?
Another principle to help us not be hypocrites is to do our good deeds in secret. Jesus says, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.” (Matthew 6:1). He gives examples of giving to the needy, or praying for someone.
And let me give you some advice from the end of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Matthew 7:24-27: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus ends with a story, and it’s a story that begs a question: What will be your foundation? What is your faith really in? Underneath it all, what’s the foundation of your faith?
If your faith is in Jesus, well, he’s a rock. He will never change. He will never falter. He’ll never let you down. And so your faith will stand strong.
Simon's bit - Remember Sandra’s words from the video when she saw a flyer for Verve:
“This doesn't sound like church, this cant be a real christian church because real Christians don't like gay people, don't like tattooed people, don't like inter racial couples, don't like this and don't like that, but maybe this church is for me ……. This is the first time I have felt love in a church – ever – I heard the pastor say God has so much love for you – and I never knew that – I thought I had to qualify………………...”
I hope we can all NON JUDGMENTAL / NON HYPOCRITICAL Christians and if someone like Warren or Sandra walked through our doors on a Sunday morning or we met them on our front lines they would see the salt and light in us and feel God’s unconditional love FOR EVERYONE.
Please share your thoughts and reactions. We are a scattered (and isolated) church at the moment but we can still keep in touch by phone and by digital media.
This text is based on extracts from the book and study guide “God For The Rest Of Us”. If you would like a full study guide please contact me. The book is available in various formats from Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rest-Vince-Antonucci-Kyle-Idleman/dp/1496407164/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1584870057&sr=1-1