What do people think of you? I'm not talking about "church-going people" but regular people in your neighborhood, workplace, or school? How do they view you? What would they say about you if you were not around? With the help of a book called UnChristian by David Kinnaman, God has convicted me about my lack of concern and care for unbelievers in my sphere of influence. Sadly, this lack of love is common and noticable to the outside world, especially among young people.
In a recent survey by the Barna Group, it was found that most 16-29 year olds view Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, and anti-homosexual. These perceptions were often formed out of painful experiences with Christians--experiences that led to spiritual scars that prevented them from seeing Christians rightly and more importantly seeing Christ rightly.
I'm convinced that part of the problem is that we try to love people with our lips before we love them with our lives. Sure, we have good intentions. We want to bring people to see the seriousness of their sin and need for a Savior. But maybe our big mouths are getting in the way of bringing people to Jesus. Maybe our big mouths are trying to do it all while our hands and feet lay limp and inactive.
Rick Warren says something similar:
For some time now, the hands and feet of the body of Christ have been amputated, and we've been pretty much reduced to a big mouth. We talk far more than we do. It's time to reattach the limbs and let the church be the church in the twenty-first century.
I say, "Amen" to that. Far from minimizing the audible message of the gospel, we must make the message visible by our lives. Our good deeds should support the good news so that the real Jesus is shown to outsiders. The Jesus who was both full of grace and truth.
Andy Stanley shares the same perspective as he writes,
We must put the emphasis on developing relationships with nonbelievers, serving them, loving them, and making them feel accepted. Only then would we earn the right to share the gospel. Their acceptance by us should not be predicated on their willingness to accept Christ. After all, God loved us before we were lovable.
Let me be clear. In our efforts to promote the gospel, our aim should not be to change our culture's perception of us. That may never happen. Our aim should be to simply live like Jesus. Our aim should be to embody the truth and love of Christ in our words and actions. By our good deeds matching up with our good news, the gospel will be made clear to a culture blinded by its own perceptions. And our big mouths will only be big because of the uncontainable joy we have in seeing more people brought to the Savior.