Monday, June 15, 2020

Some Christians Are Just Wearing The Jacket - Appearances Can Be Deceiving

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  – Matthew 23:27-28

After I returned from Vietnam in 1970, I started classes at a local Junior College. I became involved in an organization named Chi Gamma Iota or XGI. It was an on-campus organization catering to students who were veterans.  Most had served in Vietnam. You may recall that the Draft was in effect so there were a lot of veterans going back to school.  While in Vietnam, I was assigned as a radio operator to the Military Assistance Command - Vietnam (MAC-V) , Advisory Team 68 on the Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta. Each unit has a distinctive patch.  So – when I saw a guy standing in the hallway wearing a fatigue jacket with the MAC-V patch on the right shoulder ( the right should patch indicates the unit you served with in combat), I approached him. “What team were you with?”, I asked. He looked confused. He responded, “I don’t know what you mean.” “I mean what MAC-V advisory team were you with in Vietnam?” To which he replied, “Man, I wasn’t in the Army, I bought this jacket at the Salvation Army store.” I was surprised and dismayed.  That jacket and that patch meant something – it was something that bound people together through a common experience.  He was an imposter.  He thought the jacket was cool – I thought the jacket was a declaration of who he was.

So why am I telling you that story? Because it reminded me of why there is such turmoil in the Body of Christ. Why the light of Christ that should be burning brightly in a world that is desperately trying to keep from drowning is so dim. For many Christians – “just wearing the jacket” is enough for them. They never actually serve.  They never actually go beyond the safety of their religious space.  They have never deployed to a combat zone.  They hold on to their biases and fears but want to appear to be the “good and faithful servant” to the world – but more importantly to their other Christian friends.

My goal is not to be harsh or berate Christian, but to being understanding about why the Body of Christ is fractured and largely impotent.  Oh, I am thinking about a number of military analogies – but  I will not go there.  But I will share what the Apostle Paul said

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure  hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” – 2 Timothy 2:2-4

We are so busy living our own lives, drawn to those who live like us, look like us, do what we do, drive what we drive, play like we play, that we ignore the plight of other Christians that are not like – do not look – do not live – do not speak – like us. In that regard we are merely wearing the jacket – and feel righteous and justified with ourselves. And if we are not certain -  well we just ask someone who is wearing the same jacket. Unless that person is someone who has worn that jacket in the spiritual battle that rages around us.

Do you hear God speaking in the midst of the turmoil in this country?  Look past the press – the Facebook posts – and try to see what is behind all of this.  People are desperate for change.  The Church is on this planet to show the world that Jesus is the answer – but in large part – the church is indistinguishable from the culture it has been called out of.  Salt that has lost it’s saltiness.  What Jesus was accusing the scribes and Pharisees of. Jesus said:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” – Matthew 5:13

Embrace your calling.  Embrace your mission.  Embrace your brothers and sisters in Christ – not just in thought but in deed. Embrace your new life in Christ.  Yield your heart and life to the Lord. Stop walking on the other side of the road. Let your light shine!

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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