When I wrote How to be Beautiful, I didn't think it would be the first of a series of How Tos, but here I am writing my second How To post. I felt compelled to write this because I feel like Christians today get a bad rep. We're called too conservative and judgmental and off-putting.
Make no mistake, being a Christian and living a life that's pleasing to God is not easy. It's something I work hard at each day. One Sunday a few months ago, my pastor said something that really spoke to me. It was along the lines of: "It is not my job to make you better Christians, but to make you better human beings." Amennnnn. We were made in God's image and given superior intelligence to other animals for a reason. We can discern right from wrong and choose love and acceptance over hate and rejection. Being a Christian isn't about walking around proud and condemning others for the lives they lead, but sharing your love, talents and passion for Christ with the world around you. Here's how I think it should be done:
1) Without gossip. This is one I really struggle with, because it's so easy to talk about people, from the latest Kardashian episode to the neighbor who never returned your blender. It has become so easy to speak ill of people you know and don't know: about how messed up their lives are and how they should be living. But that's not Christ-like. Christ would show love and grace and understanding to all those He meets. He would speak only that which is true, kind and necessary. I'm working on it. Hold me to it. And I'll hold you.
2) Without judging or condemning. In order to gossip, you must first judge. Just don't allow yourself to think negative thoughts about people (or yourself, but that's another post). Again, super hard--harder than any word problem you had to solve in algebra or geometry--but so worth it. Although we are all firm in our convictions about abortion and same-sex marriage and abstinence and all other things controversial, we must remember our place. Truly, only God can judge us. None of us are without our transgressions and judging others for sinning differently than we do only serves to destroy, not build friendships and relationships. If you walk around with a list of reasons why certain people are going to Hell, you ain't living right.
3) Consider yourself a fisherman. Matthew 4:19 says: "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." If you are going to follow Christ, you must not only obey His commandments but also spread His word. That means spreading love and showing grace. If you don't walk and talk in a way that attracts people to your ministry and to God, you will never catch a single fish. In fact, you may turn away fish whose saving grace you could have been. We are all fighting our own demons but you could be the Patronus Charm that banishes someone's demon forever and ever amen.
4) Let Him lead you. When all else fails, ask yourself: What Would Jesus Do? Would He curse someone out or would he be patient and seek to talk it out? Would He "borrow" something and never return it? Would he stretch the truth? Would He allow anger or jealousy or past wrongdoings control his life? Pray to Him daily and seek His guidance for your life. I'm not going to say I am patient enough to wait for His answer--sometimes I take matters into my own hands--but again, I, like you, am human and I'm working on it. Seek His face and turn from your wicked ways.
5) Be a light. My all-time FAVORITE verse in the bible is Matthews 5:16, but to get the gist of it, you must start at verse 14. It reads:
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Doesn't that just make so much sense? The life you lead as a Christian should be so reflective of God and His works that people see you and want to glorify Him just because of your blessings. How powerful is that! YOU have the power within you. You can lead people to Christ just by being you. You can speak only words that are true, kind and necessary. You can be less judgmental. You can cast a wide net and be a fisherman for Jesus. You can ask what Jesus would do in your daily life. And you can be the light of the world. You are the light of the world.
Set your little light shine everywhere you go. I'm gonna let mine. That's what dreams are made of.