Sunday, December 9

Living an exemplary life

Last week, I was reading in 1 Peter. Recently, I’ve been reading the Message version of the Bible, just to give it a different sound from what I’ve heard before. Peter tells us “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

I was struck by the last two sentences of that paragraph. Survey after survey shows that, while people think highly of Jesus Christ, they do not think very highly of those who call themselves followers of Jesus. I think part of the reason for that is that Christians don’t live “exemplary lives.” Far too often we believe the right things, but that belief doesn’t translate into the actions in our everyday life. James addresses this in his book. He said “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? . . . Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.” (James 2:14-15, 18)

We live in a society that is developing (or has developed) a prejudice against the followers of Jesus. Unfortunately, at least some of the prejudice has been earned. We have no ability to change what others do, or to undo any action from the past. But we can affect the way we live. We need to make sure that we live “exemplary lives” so that people can really see us living out what we say we believe, and so that they can identify in us the things about Jesus that they already find attractive. If we can do that, we really will see people “won over to God’s side.”

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