And They'll Know We Are Christians by Our T-Shirts
Of the 2.8 million deaths reported to the Social Security Administration last year, approximately 14,000 people's names were incorrectly entered in their online database as dead. That many people, 1 out of 200 entries, were reported as dead when they were very much alive and well. That's 38 life-altering mistakes every day.
One day, Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, suddenly stopped receiving disability checks. Then, her loan payments and rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to find out what was the matter. The representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead. They would only reopen her accounts if she could prove she was alive. No doubt, she found ways to prove her case! This leads me to ask you something: If you were in a similar situation but were required to prove that you are alive, not physically but spiritually, could you do it? Could you make your case to the world around you that you are a real live Christian?
It’s a question we need to seriously think about. Most people who know anything about Christianity realize that there should be convincing evidence in your life that indicates you are a real live Christian. What is this convincing evidence? In other words, how do you know you’re a real live Christian? Is it the fish emblem on your car, or the cross you wear around your neck? Maybe you are convinced that you can know you’re a real live Christian if you don’t use bad words, or if you go to church a lot. Lots of people have fish emblems on their cars. Even more wear crosses around their necks. And there are plenty of people who don't swear, and millions of people of people go to church. Does that make them real live Christians?
Jesus said that people will know we're disciples by our love. But again, lots of people love. We could say that a real Christian is someone who has received Christ as their Lord and Savior. That sounds pretty definitive, but is that all it takes—praying a prayer or walking down the aisle in church? I heard about a T-shirt you can buy that says, "And they'll know we are Christians by our T-shirts." Three out of four Americans describe themselves as Christians. But how can you know if someone really is one? How can you know if you are?
The Apostle Paul talks a lot about what it means to be a real live Christian, to be Christ-like in the way we think and in the way we act. As we saw in Philippians 2 the past couple of weeks, a real live Christian is someone who thinks and acts like Christ did—like a servant. And in Colossians 3, Paul talks about some other things that identify someone as an authentic Christian. A real live Christian is someone who “puts to death” the things in his or her life that need to die, and “puts on” the things that are visible evidences that he or she is indeed a real live Christian. We don’t have any trouble understanding that the things we need to put to death are our sinful ways. But what are we to put on? What are we to “clothe” ourselves with that provides convincing proof that we are indeed, real live Christians? I’ll give you a hint—it’s not a T-shirt that says, “And they'll know we are Christians by our T-shirts."