We believe everyone reading this article should engage in some self-examination and answer this question:In a world of broken relationships and trust deficits, when people hear or see your name, does it bring rest or more uncertainty? This will prick the conscience for some and for others it will drive them to engage in active deception. As Christians we prize our reputations, maybe even idolize them. In truth we need to rethink things, because there is a chasm between the world we seek to win and the way we portray ourselves.
We live in a world filled with transactional relationships bereft of truth. In this world, names are associated with achievement and socioeconomic status, not necessarily character. Typical connections lack authenticity, accountability and most importantly love. In reality, and according to civil and criminal jurisprudence, a person’s name does not mean much until it is written down on a contract and bound to an agreement that has the force of law behind it.
As Christians we find ourselves in such a setting and often feel powerless to overcome the pervasive cynicism in our culture. We pride ourselves on character and so our attacks against the world are often character based. Why then should we be surprised when they respond in kind.
Skeptics are fueled by our hypocrisy and self-righteousness that gives rise to a witness protection approach to reaching them. Witness protection means the lengths Christians go to in order to protect our reputations and manage other people’s perceptions. God is not pleased with this deception. We should simply be truthful witnesses endeavoring to be more like Christ before Him and the world. We are broken and imperfect; yet, striving. This is the truth and truthfulness is part of having a good name and the only road to bolstering one.
Sadly, the self-deception of believers is not confined to a mild flexion of the truth used to mask our weaknesses from others. The more sinister beast of “relativity” often devours the authenticity of those claiming the name of Christ. We use the failures of prominent church leaders, and the atrocities of those on the religious fringe to situate ourselves comfortably in the fat part of the bell curve of faith.
In our ease, we forget the true power of Christianity. It’s about us. People don’t make decisions of faith based on the failures of the preacher on TV with his too white smile and slicked back hair. They don’t turn their heart from God based on a news story about an abortion clinic bombing, or the infidelity of a church leader.
They weigh the value of Christ by what they see in the Christian next door. Once we embrace this truth authenticity takes on new meaning.
For too long our message to not bring reproach on the name of the Lord has been synonymous with making the church look bad. There needs to be a distinction that is clear to believers and unbelievers alike. God loves His church, but He does not support many of the things we do in His name. They are simply our endeavors with a forged signature. Perhaps that is the core of the problem.
Dan Jackson contributed to this opinion piece.
Hakim Hazim is founder of Relevant Now “Timely, Insightful and Transformative Information”