In my last post, “For His Name’s Sake,” I talked about how a Christian’s conduct has a direct effect upon Christ’s reputation in the world. If that conduct is sinful, that does harm to Christ’s name. Now let me give you a practical example that will help you to better understand this.
Let’s say that a man who isn’t a Christian goes to buy a used car. He walks onto a car lot and has a salesman come out, grinning from ear to ear. The salesman says, “Can I help you?”
The man says, “Yes, I like the looks of this car right here. Is it a good car?” The salesman says, “I’ll let you in on a little secret. Just between you and me, this car is the best buy on the lot. It is mechanically as sound as a dollar. I wouldn’t mind taking off cross-country in this car.” But even as those words roll off the salesman’s lips, he knows they are a lie. The mechanics have told him that the car’s engine needs to be completely rebuilt.
Well, the trusting potential buyer takes the car out for a test-spin. The car does alright on the short test drive, and the man decides to buy it. The salesman says, “Step into my office, and we’ll sign the papers.”
As they step into the office, the buyer notices that hanging on the salesman’s office wall is a beautiful picture of Jesus. He also notices that the salesman has a little plaque on his desk. The plaque reads, “Christ is the answer.” The man says to the salesman, “I gather that you are a Christian.” The salesman says, “Oh yes. I’ve been a deacon in my church for twenty years.”
The man says, “Well, if you can’t trust a deacon, who can you trust?” The salesman says, “That’s right. You can trust me. That car is just a little bit too old to have any kind of warranty, but I’ll take care of you. If you have any trouble with the car, just bring it back to me. I’ll make things right. You have my personal word on that.”
So, the papers are signed and the deal is done. The man just bought himself a car. He climbs into it, starts it up, waves to the salesman, and pulls off the lot. He gets about two miles up the road when the smoke starts pouring out of the hood. Luckily, there is a garage right there on the corner. The man pulls into the garage, and the mechanic takes a look at the engine. The mechanic says, “Sir, I hate to tell you this, but this motor is completely shot. It needs a total rebuilding.”
Upon hearing that, the man immediately marches the two miles back up the road to the car lot. He finds the salesman in his office. He says, “Pal, you sold me a lemon. I drove that car two miles and the motor blew up. I want you to keep your word and make things right.”
And what does that used-car selling deacon do? He says, “Sir, I feel awful about this, but our policy is that all sales are final. And since the car doesn’t have a warranty, I’m afraid that there isn’t much I can do for you.”
You say, “Boy, that car-buyer won’t think much of that Christian salesman.” You’re right. I’ll tell you something else: He won’t think much of Christ either! He’ll say, “If that’s what being a Christian is all about, the Christians can have it. I can do better than that on my own. Who needs a Savior who can only produce that kind of behavior?”
This is why I say, Christian, that you are called to live your faith wherever you happen to be at the time. If you go around claiming to be a Christian, you’d better act right. If you have a tag that says “Christ is my co-pilot,” you’d better be honest. If you have a bumper-sticker that says “Honk, If You Love Jesus,” you’d better pay your bills. If you wear a shirt that says “My best friend is a Jewish carpenter,” you’d better watch your language. Why? Because it is the very name of Christ that is at stake!
You can call this “Christianity in shoe-leather.” It is bringing your Christianity down out of the clouds of doctrine. It is pulling your religion up off your church seat. It is transforming your spirituality from principle into practice.
And how do you do it? Each day that you wake up, you spend time in prayer and say, “Jesus, today, wherever I may go, whatever the day holds for me, lead me in the paths of righteousness. You be the guiding shepherd; I’ll be the obedient sheep.” Nothing less will do if you really want Christ to guide you into paths of righteousness.