Christianity 201

February 1, 2015

Truth in Advertising

With the start of a new month, we often revisit things from the same month in the previous year. Immediately we were reminded of Christian Fellowship Devotionals.  During the month of February, we’re hoping to feature a re-post from that website each Sunday.  This one is by Adam and you should click the title below to read this at source.

your_ad_here_t_shirtTruth in Advertising

Jesus’ harshest words were spoken of the churched. Did you catch that – the churched, not the unchurched – the there-every-time-the doors-are-open crowd, not the sinful, wicked world?

Matthew 23:13-14,27-28 (NKJV)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

If you read the rest of chapter 23, Jesus is brutal with the good church-going, faithful Jews. On at least three separate occasions, he refers to this group as a “brood of vipers”. (Matthew 3:7, Matthew 12:34, and Matthew 23:33)

I believe he was hard on them because he wanted them to recognize the differences in their own lives, between what they said they did, and what they actually did. He wanted the church to realize that they were sinners, too, and in as much need of him as anyone. He wanted them to see that just as he saw through their false fronts, so could everyone else. I have heard it said before that most people don’t come to church because they’ve already been. We talk about love and grace, but all too often, confront with condemnation and guilt.

I recently attended a marketing seminar, and the panel of experts discussed what they called the integrity gap. This is the difference between the promise and the reality. My t-shirt may say “Jesus loves you,” but gestures made when someone cuts me off in heavy traffic might show a different reality. I may say “come as you are” but then when you do come I turn my nose up and walk away because you’re not like me. I may condemn adultery, and then spend early morning hours looking at internet images that should never be seen. These all indicate gaps. They indicate a degree of phoniness, and it is these gaps that Christ was trying to continually point out to the church (well, okay, to the temple- and synagogue goers). What can we do to remove this integrity gap? How can we be Christ-like Christians, rather than Pharisee-like church-goers?

Well according to what I got out of the marketing presentation, we first have to determine a vision of what we should be, and then determine where we fall short of that ideal. We need to discover the integrity gap. These experts were talking about gaps at corporations, between their brand’s promise and the reality – but as I listened, I thought they applied to individuals just as well.

One of the panelists listed off five questions to uncover the integrity gap, and I was amazed at how many times I had heard preachers say some of the exact same types of things.

  1. What’s on your calendar – really? Where do you invest your time?
  2. Where are you spending money? Follow the dollars to find your heart.
  3. What questions do you frequently ask others? What are you measuring?
  4. What do you celebrate? What do you reward?
  5. What keeps you awake at night? What captures your mind in such a way that you lose track of time?

If we honestly answer these questions for ourselves and our churches, then we begin to see some of that phoniness and hypocrisy that undoubtedly others can already see, because it is always easier to find the faults in others, than it is in yourself. Identify the worst areas, and begin to work on them now. Don’t tackle it all at once, but instead determine one thing you need to stop doing – and one thing you should start doing – and just do that. Then make the next step, and the next – until the gap is closed. If you need a second opinion, ask your spouse to be honest about these questions with you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John Maxwell said, “Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.” It is my prayer that the image I put out would align with the person I truly am, and that person each day would resemble Christ more and more. We are to be his reflection, so our image and the reality behind it is very important.

image: Zazzle.com

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