We Christians are called to point other people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and draw attention to God’s glory instead of our own.
In a society that thrives on social networking, publicity, and instant communication, it is difficult to make these easy challenges a reality.
Instead of pointing people to Christ, we are too busy trying to stand up for Christ. Instead of drawing attention to God’s glory, we build bigger schemes in drawing greater attention to ourselves. Instead of glorifying God, we find new ways to be divisive or abrasive.
But the Bible is very clear on this issue. Paul tells the Thessalonians, for instance, to “make it an ambition to lead a quiet life, working with your hands” (1 Thess. 4:11). Peter gives similar advice: “Conduct yourselves honorably among the pagans . . . so that they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God on the day of God’s visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
As a pastor and author, I am acutely aware of how being a leader, preacher, and teacher in the community creates a tension with these commands. I realized this when I had to set up a website for my book.
I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, and I certainly was not in the habit of trying to market my writing or my book on a large scale, but I had to do it to try and get it into the hands of people who need it. Also, I had an obligation to my co-author to try my hardest to push it.
The spotlight can be rewarding at times, but it has its burdens as well. Sometimes I’d rather crawl in a hole with a good book to read rather than to share.
I am not the only person who has this kind of stress and conflicted feelings. In fact, many Christians I know would rather live a quiet life than be so public with their actions. Social media does not help the cause, that’s for sure.
Peter does not leave us hanging when we wonder how it is that we are to “live honorably” and try our hardest to draw people’s attention to God. In fact, his first letter to the early Christian church spells out exactly how to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus.
First, Peter tells us that we are born again and are to reflect the values and principles of Father God. We spend so much time talking about being born again, however, we forget what it is that we are born into.
Peter states that we are born into the holiness of God (1 Peter 1:13-16). This requires self-discipline and hope in Christ against steep odds. It requires that we desire not the lusts and power of this world, but the humility and power of the cross.
Peter also encourages readers to be a “servant of God” first, and a good citizen of the community second (1 Peter 2:13-17). Christians sometimes forget that we can glorify God by obeying the law and honoring those who are in leadership over us.
Although the Bible reminds us that all human institutions and governments are, well, human, God still expects us to lead lives of righteousness within the framework in which God has called us. No matter if we are under the umbrella of capitalism, socialism, communism, or whatever -ism, we can still serve Christ and serve others. If we are drawing people to God, it really doesn’t make a difference what political system we live in.
Living honorably also means being a good employee, child, parent, grandparent, and friend. We are not to retaliate in face of persecution; nor are we to give people a hard time or a coarse word. Instead, we are to “love one another, have a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).
When we are divisive, attention-seeking, self-centered, and try to get our way, we work against one of the most basic commands the Bible teaches all believers. We are, like Christ, to follow the way of the cross and point people to God’s heart instead of our own egos.