I knew a woman in a neighboring city who used to be a waitress at a popular restaurant in that town. She told me that the worst shift to work was a Sunday morning/afternoon. None of the wait staff wanted to deal with the after-church crowd. Apparently, these fine, outstanding citizens who had put on their best clothes and just spent their obligatory weekly hour in “the Lord’s house” were rude, crabby, demanding, and truly lousy tippers!
For some reason I felt ashamed and embarrassed to tears when she told me this. I found myself saying, “I am so sorry!” even though it was not I who had committed this particular offense. I suppose my reaction was rooted in the same type of feeling we have when a family member has done something really stupid and shameful – are people going to assume we’re the same way because we’re related to that person?
This was this woman’s perception of Christians. She saw people coming from church, and she saw that their behavior was ugly. Ergo, people who go to church (i.e., “Christians”) are horrible. And since I’m a Christian, I felt compelled to apologize for others’ conduct.
Of course none of us can be responsible for someone else’s behavior, but we all must carefully consider our own conduct at all times.
Matthew 5:14, 16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” The world is watching more closely than we may realize. They are watching, and they are forming judgments about whether we have something genuinely life changing or if we’re absolutely no better off than they are. If there’s no difference, if we don’t shine God’s love and demonstrate His character, why should they want what we have?
It’s easy to get entangled in the emotions or the politics of a particular situation and forget our true purpose, but let’s remind one another that we’re called to be Christ’s representatives on Earth that others may see and glorify God.