I was reading about a 5K race online today. It sounded wonderful, and promised runners in 100-plus cities a top of the line experience.
The website was flashy, colorful and professionally done, and did its very best to draw people to what the organizers promised would be one of the most entertaining races runners had ever participated in.
The problem? It was all a scam. In return for their registration fees, eager participants would get nothing. No race, no amenities, no refund – zilch. The elaborate ruse was all flash and show and no substance.
On face value, the event and its website looked legit. But after digging deeper under the surface, numerous inconsistencies made the fraud easy to spot for those who knew what to look for.
The fine details just did not add up.
But for those who would not take the time to look deeper, it would be easy to be sucked in.
Too often, I think we as Christians try to do much the same thing to the world around us.
We put on the cloak of the Christian life – wear the right clothes, quote the right verses, listen to the right music, go to the right church – but beneath it all, too many of our attitudes and behaviors fail to line up with the front we try to put on.
Deceit is not usually initial intent. We set out to live as “Christian” a life as possible. But along the line we lose the one ingredient in our hearts that Jesus said would identify us without a shadow of a doubt as His followers:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
You see, without love in our hearts, everything else becomes simply a façade.
What should separate us from the world around us is not simply our clothes, music, doctrine, or choice of Sunday morning activities.
Instead, what should separate us is love.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that the greatest deeds done without love are worth nothing, and provides a stark portrait of what that love should look like.
We need to extend forgiveness when the rest of the world is ready to condemn the unpardonable.
We need to reach out a hand to help those in need when the rest of the world is ready to turn their backs on the “unlovable.”
We reach for peace and reconciliation when our “enemy” is looking for a fight.
We are willing to sacrifice anything for others, instead of simply living for ourselves.
Our love is not best evidenced by the change it produces in us, but by the change it produces in our homes, workplaces, communities, and in our world. When we love as Jesus has commanded us to love, the world around us will begin to change for the better.
After all, Jesus’ love is the Living Water, and everything it touches should blossom and shine.
Daniel Kiewel works in the hospitality ministry at CrossPoint Church in Great Bend, and maintains a faith-based blog at www.breakthetape312.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.