I have started this post about five different times over the last week and have tried to attack it from different angles, but none of them are working. So I'm going to put down the thoughts that have been running through my brain and hopefully in the end, they will all make sense. Mostly, they are questions or question like statements of self-analysis of my personal life.
For the past few months, I have been giving some thought to how my personal life is viewed by others. Specifically, the question would be, "When others see me, do they see Christ?" I think it is easy to answer the question with a yes and move on with the rest of my life because too often in self-analysis I only focus on the good and I repress the bad. However, as I stepped out of myself and tried to view my life from every angle, there is much more to be seen than just the good interactions between myself and family or between myself and friends at church.
One of the things that I have been thinking about specifically is, "Is my life a testimony of the saving grace of Jesus Christ?" If not, what does that look like? Part of my problem is that I am self-employed. It is not uncommon for me to go for weeks at a time without seeing anyone other than my wife and children and our friends at church. I have almost no personal interaction with anyone else. It is not like I am a hermit, but yet in many ways we are isolated because of homeschooling and self-employment. So that means that when we do interact with others who are unbelievers, we must make the most of the situation. Which leads to another question, "How do we do that?"
I know that we are to be salt and light as is commanded in Matthew 5:13-16 and that is certainly my goal. Yet what does that look like in my life? We are called as believers to come out from the world and yet we are commanded to go back into it to tell the good news. Seems like a paradox to me. Still, we must go. So of course in my mind that leads to yet another question, "How can my life be salt and light to the world around me and what does that look like in practical everyday living?" As I have studied and thought about this subject, I have come up with two things that I think are important as these questions apply to my life. They are, as the rest of the post, in the form of a question.
First, is my minute by minute daily living showing forth good works that are motivated by devotion to Jesus Christ so that others may in turn see them and be led by the Spirit to glorify the Father? Matthew 5:16 "...let your light shine before other, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Notice that it doesn't say that they may "hear" your erudite words. The world around me does not need to hear from me my personal knowledge about the Bible, nor do they need to receive any judgments from me on how they live their lives. No, they need to see the radical change the grace of God has wrought in my life and then the Spirit will lead them to ask questions like, "What motivates them to do that? or Why would they continue to reach out to them after all that has happened?" I believe that the radical change of grace in my life is seen by others when I am moved with compassion to do something out of love that I would not have done through any power of my own.
Secondly, when others see me, is my hope in Jesus Christ clearly visible? I Peter 3:15 "...always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." Is the reason that no one has asked me recently about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ due to the fact that they see me trusting in the same things that they trust in? Their jobs, their families, their relationships hold their worlds together. Do they see me motivated by the same hope they have? If they do, than my hope is obviously in the wrong place. I think it certainly implied in this verse that one of the reasons that my life may not be an effective witness for Christ is simply due to the fact that, to often, my hope is in the wrong things rather than in the right Person.
I have not completely worked all of these questions out in my head, yet I know there are two things I need to prayerfully continue to examine. First, that the motivation of my actions need to be Godly and not self-centered. Secondly, I need to constantly examine myself to make certain that I am hoping only in the Giver and not the gifts.