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How Can Christians Counter a Bad Image?

by Bob Russell

Gleaned from www.bobrussell.org

Let’s face it…Christians have a serious image problem these days. Hollywood has effectively portrayed Christians as bigoted, hypocritical, judgmental, and joyless. Unfortunately, shallow believers have provided plenty of real-life examples to reinforce that stereotype. But when was the last time you saw a movie or television program that presented a Bible believing church-goer as kind, generous, and forgiving? I can’t remember even one. As a result the average young adult who has been inundated for years with that dour image wants nothing to do with the church.

The best marketing tool we have is to, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12). Our hope is not in imitating the world but in offering an attractive contrast to it.

Psalm 112 presents the positive results that occur in the life of one who walks in obedience to God. “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands” (verse 1). The author proceeds to list various ways God’s people are blessed. If these attributes were demonstrated consistently it would make Christianity so magnetically attractive that it would overwhelm Hollywood’s misrepresentations.

Their children will be blessed. “His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” (verse 2). If the world saw our children respecting authority, reaching their potential, and performing well in life it would be an irresistible testimony of the positive difference Christ makes in a family.

Their household will be wealthy. “Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever” (verse 3). While material wealth is not promised to every believer, it should be evident to the world that Christians pay their bills, live within their means, and are rich in the things that really matter.

Their wisdom will be respected. “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man” (verse 4). My sister, a dedicated Christian, worked in a glass factory for years. At first many teased her about her faith and ridiculed her distinctiveness. But within a few months co-workers started coming to her for counsel because she had such a keen spiritual perception about their troubles.

Their generosity will be rewarded. “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice” (verse 5). Nothing gets the attention of the world like someone who is “gracious and compassionate” and responds generously to those in need.

Their steadiness will be impressive. “Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD” (verse 6-7). What better way to draw people to Christ than to be calm in a tense environment because the Prince of Peace lives within?

Their assurance of salvation will provoke interest. “His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes” (verse 8). A believer who is confident of life after death mystifies a world that is held in bondage by the universal fear of death.

Their testimony will broaden. “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor” (verse 9).

Their nonconformity will be convicting. “The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing” (verse 10). While some unbelievers may react negatively, others will be so convicted by the contrast in life style that they repent of sin and turn to the Lord.

J. Wallace Hamilton once titled a sermon, “The Unanswerable Answer.” His proposition was that there is one irrefutable answer to those who disbelieve, and that is a genuine Christian.

-Bob Russell is the  retired  Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10