Somebody’s Watching Me

UnknownYou might have read the title of this post and thought it would be a review of the song by Rockwell (I am, after all, a child of 80’s music!).  No, this post is about something different.  The other day I was studying 1 Peter 2:11-12 and was struck about the importance of a Christian’s conduct in a world that is clearly watching what Christians do.  I was reminded of a quote by the old Scottish preacher Alexander MacLaren who rightly noted,

“The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say they belong to God’s family.  They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible.  They see us, they only hear about Jesus Christ.”

Peter reminds his readers that their conduct must be “excellent,” or honorable because the world is watching.  When the world observes our behavior that is rooted in love, grounded in truth, and marked by denying the “lusts of the flesh” it will make an impact on others.  In Peter’s words, the lost will “glorify God in the day of visitation.”  Whether this means the lost will come to Christ through the observance of a Christian’s behavior or acknowledge Christ is Lord on the Judgment Day and know at that time the behavior of Christians pointed to the truth is unsure.  Regardless, the behavior of genuine Christ followers will make an impact for the kingdom of God.

Some will be angered by the worldview Christians follow.  Some will merely want to scrutinize the behavior waiting for the Christian to make a mistake.  But others will observe the transformation Christ brings and the evidence of it in the way Christians live and ask, “Whatever it is you have, I want it!”

Thus, it is imperative that the conduct of Christians be anchored in the word of God and a genuine example of the transformation that comes about from following Christ.  All this means that Christians must live in a counter-cultural way.  They cannot live like the world.  Sadly, this is becoming less apparent in the church today.  David Wells notes,

“The church [must] form itself, by his grace and truth, into an outcropping of counter-cultural spirituality.  It must first recover the sense of antithesis between Christ and culture and then find ways to sustain that antithesis… It must give up self-cultivation for self-surrender, entertainment for worship, intuition for truth, slick marketing for authentic witness, success for faithfulness, power for humility, a God bought on cheap terms for the God who calls us to costly obedience.  It must, in short, be willing to do God’s business on God’s terms.”

Scot McKnight, in his commentary on 1 Peter 2:11-12, wrote that someone interviewed a well-known American preacher and contended that some of this preacher’s message was different than the message of the Bible, particularly about self-denial.  The preacher responded, “If I preached that, the people in my church would be mad as _____.”  The interviewer persisted and said the concept of denying yourself was still in the Bible.  The preacher’s response: “Just because it is in the Bible doesn’t mean I have to preach it.”  This is a classic example of the cultural-conditionedness of some churches and preaching today.  Little wonder so many that claim to be Christ followers do not live counter-culturally.

So, we must be diligent to live differently than the world.  We don’t need to be afraid of our culture, or hate it- we need to engage it with Christ’s love and truth through our actions, words, attitudes, etc.  We most likely have no idea who is watching us and the impact it is making in their lives.

Herb and Ruth Clingen and their young son were missionaries to Japan when WWII broke out.  The Clingens were sent to a POW camp in the Philippines where they were imprisoned for three years.  Herb’s diary told of how his family’s captors tortured, murdered, and starved to death many of the camp’s inmates.  The prisoners particularly hated and feared the camp commandant named Konishi.  Herb described one especially diabolical plan of Konishi forced on the Clingens and others near the end of the war:

“Konishi found an inventive way to abuse us even more.  He increased the food ration but gave us palay– unhusked rice.  Eating rice with its razor-sharp outer shell would cause intestinal bleeding that would kill us in hours.  We had no tools to remove the husks, and doing the job manually- by pounding the grain or rolling it with a heavy stick- consumed more calories than the rice would supply.  It was a death sentence for all internees.”

Through divine providence the Clingens were spared and liberated from their camp in February 1945 by Allied forces.  That prevented the final plan Konishi had drawn up- shooting and killing all survivors.  Years later the Clingens learned that Konishi had been found working as a grounds keeper at a golf course in Manilla.  He was put on trial for war crimes and hanged.  Just before his execution, Konishi professed conversion to Christianity, saying he had been deeply affected by the testimony of the Christian missionaries he had persecuted.

May we careful to be an example of Christ to the Konishis in our lives.

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