Have I Changed? Should I?

 

A well known gospel song is, Just As I Am. It’s a lovely hymn with a great message. Wherever you are whatever you have done regardless of your station in life, Jesus died for you so you might live. You might be a foul mouth, alcoholic, that steals to support an illegitimate life style. You might be a streetwalker that dresses to seduce men for money. You might be a rich man that earns his money by preying on the gullible. Your supposed friends might think you of as totally worthless. You might even see yourself in that same way. Yet just as you are Jesus loves you and died for you!  Here are the actual lyrics.

 

1.         Just as I am, without one plea,

            but that thy blood was shed for me,

            and that thou bidst me come to thee,

            O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

2.         Just as I am, and waiting not

            to rid my soul of one dark blot,

            to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

            O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

3.         Just as I am, though tossed about

            with many a conflict, many a doubt,

            fightings and fears within, without,

            O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

4.         Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

            sight, riches, healing of the mind,

            yea, all I need in thee to find,

            O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

5.         Just as I am, thou wilt receive,

            wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

            because thy promise I believe,

            O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

6.         Just as I am, thy love unknown

            hath broken every barrier down;

            now, to be thine, yea thine alone,

            O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

OK, so you have been accepted just as you are. But should you continue to be that same person or should you become a new person in Christ? We all know the answer to that question. But what changes should we expect to see? Again the answer may seem obvious, “I want to be like Jesus.” I want to obey the Commandments. I want to communicate with God and live in His will. I want to share the good news of Jesus and His kingdom. But I really want to talk about a few things that may not be so obvious.

 

What does a Christian look like? What does a Christian sound like? What kind of behavior is appropriate for a Christian? Let’s look at each of these more closely.

 

What does a Christian look like? You can’t really say exactly but there are a few traits you might expect.

1.      Clean.

2.      Appropriately dressed. No droopy pants or mini skirts.

3.      Confident yet humble.

4.      Not given to outrageous fads. Tattoos and piercing.

 

What does a Christian sound like? Again you can’t say exactly. Christians come from all kinds of backgrounds and are familiar with a large variety of things. But there are a few traits you would expect.

1.      Not given to crude language. No potty mouth.

2.      Not given to gossip.

3.      Speak truthfully and thoughtfully

4.      Able to express themselves well without resort to frivolous words such as, “Like.” “You know” “Oh my God,” and other such language.

 

How does a Christian behave? Let’s let the Bible speak for itself.

*   (Mat 7:12 NIV)  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

*   (Gal 5:14 NIV)  The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

*   (Rom 13:13-14 NIV)  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. {14} Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Rom 14:1 NIV)  Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

*   (Eph 4:22-32 RSV)  Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, {23} and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, {24} and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. And to take heed of the sins practised among the heathen. {25} Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. {26} Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, {27} and give no opportunity to the devil. {28} Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. {29} Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. {30} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. {31} Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, {32} and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 5:1-2 RSV)  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. {2} And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

There may be aspects of our appearance we cannot overcome. But we should make every effort to not continue to make the situation worse. We may never be great speakers but we should try to improve ourselves. We may continue to fail from time to time but we should repent and continue on the path with our Lord.

 

Perhaps you can’t truly tell a book by its cover. But a book with a good cover will sell better than a book with a poor cover. There is a reason we try to make a good first impression. It’s because without a good first impression we may not get a chance at a second impression. God deserves our best! All the time!