by Calven Celliers
I recently came across a quote by British evangelist Rodney “Gipsy” Smith who said that,
“There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, but most people will never read the first four.”
The Five Gospels – Matthew. Mark. Luke. John. YOU!
Have you ever heard the slogan that the only Bible some people may ever read is you? This is a reminder to us as believers that we need to keep our behaviour beyond reproach since non-Christians will judge Christianity by the day-to-day lives of Christians. The idea is that people form their impressions of Christianity not just from what Christians say, but also by what Christians do and how Christians treat others. I have a confession, there’s a reason I’ve always been reluctant to put a fish symbol on the back of my car. Come to think of it, do people even do that anymore? There was a time when it was the ‘in thing’ in many Christian circles, but in all honesty, I hardly ever see fish symbols on Christians bumpers these days. The point, however, remains true. What if I go over the speed limit? What if I don’t always manage to merge gracefully into traffic? People will start to form a negative impression of all Christians.
The pattern holds true whether it’s a Jesus fish on our bumper or a cross around our neck or even if someone just happens to know that we go to church. Once it’s known that we’re Christians, then we’re on the witness stand. The truth is that we are all role models. Each one of us is setting an example for someone. You can’t walk away from that reality. The people you interact with, in your sphere of influence, are watching what you do. And by your words and actions, you are influencing others. People will look at us as followers of Christ and make judgments about what Christians are all about. This can have negative consequences if we display bad behaviour, but it can also have profoundly positive ones too.
“One must not overlook the stark reality that the way one’s life is lived out will determine the impact.” (Ravi Zacharias)
In his letter to Titus, an early church leader and trusted companion, the apostle Paul wrote,
“7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” (Titus 2:7NLT)
Paul clearly knew that a principle of ‘do as I do’ rather than ‘do as I say’ is a most effective way to train others in the things of God, and he advised this trusted colleague to present himself to his brothers and sisters in Christ, as a worthy pattern of the good behaviour and the godly conduct that should be the hallmark of every believer.
The people you interact with each day aren’t walls. What you say and do, doesn’t just bounce off them. We impact other people! It is your choice as to whether to influence others in a positive or negative manner.
I encourage you this week to think about how your words and actions are influencing others. What would your family members, colleagues and friends say about you? Would they say that you are setting a good example? Would they say that you inspire them to get into a personal relationship with Jesus?
May we live a life that is so Christ-focused that we become a practical outworking of the doctrine we have learned and a living testimony to the God we serve.