Yes, yes I can.
Yes, that is an available feature on all of us. It is not some trick setting that only decent people know how to switch on.
Yet somehow so many people walk around so concerned about their image, day in day out, check the stats, check the win column, check them out.
My first year of substitute teaching I came into a classroom and found a note that was being passed. This note trashed a girl’s reputation and was being handed up an aisle and laughed over. As I took the note I read and found that not only did it trash this girl’s reputation, the situation discussed was orchestrated by a cool kid with some money who found an insecure young boy who worried about his family’s finances and used that money to push the boy and that girl into a situation that was cruel. I was shaken.
In fact, I was shaking. I cried in front of those kids and tore into them. I told them that it doesn’t matter if you are the coolest, the smartest, the best athlete, the best looking, the most popular. If you don’t have character, you are lacking. The idea that kids would pass that and laugh and not stand up for those two kids broke my heart. I told them that each person who had that note in their hand had held an opportunity to show character, and by keeping silent they had made the wrong choice.
I know that I left an impression. Occasionally through the following 4 years that I subbed, heard kids reference my speech, if it could be grand enough to call it that. In the moment, it felt like a tirade.
Today I heard another story, a story that shows the character of a man. Not just any man, but a leader, and a man who claims to be a Christian. I have to swallow hard not to scream the story here and there, to force this person to claim his actions. I know that I don’t even exist to him, but I have heard stories of him since I moved here. Time and time again, cheating, underhandedness, slander, just opportunity after opportunity this person is given the chance to show character, and fails.
It is not disheartening only because I see the ramifications of his actions, but also because he claims to be a Christian. I know that being a Christian does not ensure a moral high ground or mean that a person can never fail.
Here is where I want to get real though. Being a Christian should mean more than the graphic on your tee-shirt. They’ll know we are Christians by our stats, by our stats….? No. I think even those who weren’t brought up in the church singing the old hymns can finish that.
They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
John 13:34-35 says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Step it up, people. Or step out. This is as real as I want to be. If you aren’t down for keeping it real, for being decent, and at least putting some effort into living your life just a little better than you could, then walk away. Or at least take off the Jesus tee shirt. This is exactly the stuff that sets our cultures teeth on edge, sours them against Christianity. Hypocritical people. It’s not repentant sinners. It’s not even the no fun holier than thous. It is the hypocrites. The people who make a point to shove their faith in your face, claiming to follow the God of love, and yet they walk around and treat people like trash.
If you get to the end of your season and you only have checks in the win column, but you played dirty the whole time, not a single one of those victories is to your credit and it is a loss to God. I would go so far as to say, if you get to the end of your season and can’t point to a single win on your own scorecard, but you’ve mattered to the people on your team, changed lives, encouraged others, that’s a record that has left room for God to work with.
We only get one season. Don’t waste it being fake.