There is a spirit of skepticism in the world. People are not sure we are who we say we are as Christians. And may I say, that’s not all the world’s fault. Sometimes we’ve presented an off-brand Christianity that is so contradictory to what God has established that they can’t be blamed for their skepticism! Men and women today go so far with certain elements of the Gospel and completely ignore other themes. For instance, surely we’re called to prosper, but Jesus did not hang on Calvary to get you a Maserati!
The world is hungry to see what authentic Christianity looks like. People are watching us. They may not say a word, but they’re observing how we conduct our lives. They’re watching to see if we say one thing and do another. They know there is power in God, but their minds are not often convinced of it when they look at His children. In a sense, you could say they are hoping to see authenticity in us!
The late Ray Steadman wrote a book I think every believer should read: Authentic Christianity. In it, he discussed five marks of the authentic Christian. I’d like to share them with you, along with my thoughts, today.
1. Unquenchable Optimism. “Thanks be to God Who always leads us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).” If anyone should be optimistic, it should be the people of God. But after pastoring a quarter of a century and in Christ longer than that, I’ve found that human nature is amazing. People can be good to a point and then retreat. They can have faith for a week, then go into doubt and unbelief. Where is the consistency?! We should go through trying times and come out better than the Energizer Bunny! It’s unfortunate when someone who doesn’t know Jesus can be more optimistic than someone who knows Him. Make sure you’re not one of the believers who is happy one day and sad the next. Our perspective should be different. What we go through here is a temporary experience. We must learn to take our eyes off what we see and look at what we can’t see. It may not yet be real, but it IS reality. This too shall pass!
2. Unvarying Success. Unvarying means always, consistently and without fail! There is never a time or a place when we are not triumphant in Christ Jesus. Never mind what it sounds, looks or feels like; we have been declared triumphant in Christ – always. Learn to declare it when the devil’s breathing down your neck! You have the victory! You can say with confidence like the psalmist, “God is on MY side (Psalm 56:9).” Despite hardships, things invariably and inevitably will work out for our good. Even the things working against us will work for us so we can complete God’s objective for our lives.
Back in 2 Corinthians 2:14, we read that God always leads us to triumph. This actually means He causes us to dance in victory. It’s amazing to me how some people danced for the world and gave all their energy to the devil. Now that they’re saved and sanctified, they stand still in church! Israel danced when they looked over their shoulders and saw the Red Sea close over their enemies. When was the last time you looked over your shoulder and saw how far He’s brought you?
3. Unforgettable Impact. Note, it’s through us that He “diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14).” Authentic Christianity leaves an impression on all who encounter it. Because people are looking for real Christians, when they enter the room, they should sense a change in the atmosphere. The spirit of life should bring a fresh fragrance to the place!
4. Unimpeachable Integrity. God expects us to be men and women of integrity. That integrity is to be displayed in sincerity and honesty. It should be observed in our purpose originating from God. It should be seen in the sight of God, transparent to all investigation. And it should be found in Christ, in that all that we have and are is from Him. There’s too much hypocrisy in the body today. The Word tells us that we’re servants. I am a servant. You are a servant. Walk humbly! Walk in integrity. Speak the truth in love. Stop lying to one another! My mother always told us that liars have a place in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). You’re a child of God; behave like your Father!
5. Undeniable Reality. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3) There has been a transformation in you, and you are having an impact on others. Whenever I get discouraged and think nothing in my life is working as I expected it to, I’m always reminded of someone I’ve poured into that shows a worthwhile change. That’s the mark of an authentic Christian. You create change. Your words make a difference. If it doesn’t seem like it yet, press on. You will see transformation in the lives of those you minister to. Just keep at it. Keep planting and watering seeds, knowing God is the God of increase and He will bring the harvest to pass!
Satan looks for those who are up to something good. He knows if he leaves you alone, you’ll mess up his plans big time. This is why he sends distractions and hindrances against you. But you need to keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep focused! He wouldn’t be fighting you this hard if you didn’t have something great to offer. Wherever you are – in the world of education, the world of medicine, or the world of business – make a difference!