Be A Christian in a Non-Christian World Part 04
Any nation of the world would be puzzled when they saw this, wondering why the Israelites worshipped an empty space! (We know, of course that this is to teach the world that God is a spirit and that those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth). Besides this, there were also many other ways in which Israel was distinguished from the rest of the world as being God’s special people. But there was another purpose, besides that of distinguishing them from the rest, and that is: through these special laws and practices of Israel, God was revealing Himself to the world. What Israel was, as a nation belonging to God, was meant to reveal God Himself. They were meant to represent God to the world by what they did, by what they said, by what they believed and practiced.
And if they had faithfully followed these things, they would have fulfilled God’s purpose. But because of the problem of sin, they failed to do this.
The history of Israel after the Law was given to them is a record of failure after failure to obey the Law. All of this served to demonstrate the need for God’s grace, which was then revealed through Christ. It is God’s grace that now enables His people to fulfill the purpose of redemption. By God’s grace, His people now have the power to be his peculiar people, zealous of good works. Now let us see how this relates to us: what God intended to achieve through the nation of Israel, He now intends to achieve through us, whom He has redeemed and purified through Christ. We are now His special people, different from the rest. We are the ones to reveal the character of God to this world, in our lives. In whatever we do, in whatever we say, in whatever values we hold dear to ourselves, the Lord is revealing His moral character, His godliness to this world.
Did you know that by the way you live each day, you are exerting an influence that is affecting the people around you? Every moment of your life, you are exerting a tremendous influence that is going to affect the eternal destiny of your family, your friends and the ones you work or study with. You are making an impression on them either for God or against God. The question that I hope you will think about is this: “What kind of impression am I making right now by the way I am living?” Do people say to you, “I have seen the kind of person you have become since you became a Christian, and I would like to find out how my life can be changed to be like yours too. Please tell me about Jesus Christ.” Or do people say, “You know, the way that you live just confirms in my heart that you Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites. What kind of God do you have anyway that tolerates the things you do?” I would like to use an analogy that may help you to remember this.
We are like stones that are found on the ground where people walk. Do you know that stones on the ground can sometimes be very helpful? When it rains heavily and the path where we are walking becomes full of puddles of water, these stones are useful to step on, so that you can keep your shoes dry. These are what we call stepping stones. On the other hand, stones on the ground can sometimes be a great nuisance and even a danger to people. When it gets dark, it’s very easy for a person to trip or stumble over a stone and fall to the ground, getting himself hurt. These are what we call stumbling blocks. Stumbling blocks prevent people from making progress, but stepping stones help them to move on.
As Christians we can either be stepping stones or stumbling blocks. If we are helping people to make progress toward Godthrough our godly living, then we are stepping stones. But if we are preventing them from making progress toward God because we are not living godly lives, then we have become stumbling blocks to people. So then, the question becomes: “Are you a stepping stone or a stumbling block?” I hope that we are all stepping stones. Then our lives would be truly useful to God. What we really need in the world today are more stepping stones: Christians in every place today need to realize how important it is that their lives should exert a godly influence. What we have considered in this message are two compelling reasons to show why this is so important. The first reason is the wonderful grace that God has shown to us. Godly living becomes the least we can do for the Lord after all He has done for us.
And the second reason is that God saved us so that we might be His Godly people. As the Word of God says in Titus 2:14, “Jesus gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” By doing this, our lives now become the means by which others may come to know the Lord and follow Him. I would like to end this message by describing a real-life example of a person who has, to my mind, succeeded most wonderfully in living out the principles we have seen today. The life of this person has truly been a godly influence. The person I am talking about is a Filipino pastor, Rev. Donald Coniate. I had the opportunity to meet him and work together with him when I was on the mission field. Pastor Coniate is one of the lecturers at the Center for Biblical Studies at the Hilltop.
But he is also the full-time pastor of a growing church in Metro-Manila, called Lighthouse Christian Bible Church. About 5 years ago, he became quite sick and in order to recover, he needed to take a rest from his work at Lighthouse. Now, at that time the Hilltop construction had just begun and there was no one living on the site except for about 100 construction workers. So Pastor Coniate decided to stay on the Hilltop for two months to recuperate from his illness. And while he was recuperating, I wasrequested to help out with the preaching and teaching ministry at the church. While Pastor Coniate was at the Hilltop, the Lord used him to influence the lives of the construction workers there.
He lived, ate and conversed daily with the workers. And they came to know him very well. He became well-respected by them, and some sought his counsel for their problems. But they were not Christians. In fact, on one occasion, they tried to sacrifice a chicken as an offering to a tree which they believed was inhabited by a spirit. Pastor Coniate started a weekly Bible study on Fridays which was attended by most of the workers. And the best part of all is that 19 of them made professions of faith in Jesus Christ because of his godly influence in their lives. Now, the contractor in charge of the Hilltop building project was a Christian and he was naturally delighted to hear about this.
And some years later when the Hilltop project was over, this contractor paid a visit to his hometown on the island of Samar and when he visited his home church, he was pleasantly surprised to see some of those same construction workers now regularly attending the church and serving the Lord there. Now you must remember that Pastor Coniate’s purpose in staying in Antipolo was not primarily to start an outreach there.
What was he there for? He was just going there to rest and recuperate. But a life that is godly cannot fail to have an influence on the lives of other people. I trust that his example will inspire us to do the same thing where the Lord has placed each of us: to live the kind of life that will be a godly influence on others and that will lead them to Christ. May the Lord Jesus be praised!
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