Working on Chapter Three right now, which is titled “Hypocritical”. The basic premise is that the common perception of Christians is that we are two-faced and have double standards. Simply put, we do not practice what we preach. This has led to significant disillusionment and departure of many from the church.
- “…what they [outsiders] see from Christians creates their ideas about the reality and authenticity of following Christ” ~Page 43
There are a couple of thoughts from this quote. First, the sheer importance of being a faithful and obedient disciple in the world means understanding the Gospel is not good advice, but Good News. We are not moralists teaching self-improvement, but heralds preaching the Good News of God’s kingdom and the greatness of our savior Jesus. Reality and authenticity flow from the humility of grace understood and applied, not simply intellectually ascended to. Secondly, it is somewhat frustrating that individuals from inside the church would base their reality of following Christ on anything other than the Scriptures. It points to a degradation of the understanding of the great doctrines of God’s word–authority, inerrancy, clarity, sufficiency, and necessity–within the church, and the necessity for the elevation of the Scriptures within church.
- “In many ways, our [Christians’] lifestyles are no different from those around us.” ~Page 46
Adding statistical support to this statement, the authors show how woefully large the gap is between the believer and the non-believer is. The question this coerces me to ask is “is transformation evident in my life, my ministry and the body of Christ in Austin?” This is a great, gut-check question, and I pray that we are continuing to be transformed into the image of Christ as a church here in Austin. We must continue to ask God for His transforming work to continue!
- “Living with integrity starts with being transparent” ~Page 55
The authors highlight the difficult balance of transparency that is appropriate versus transparency that is self-absorbed and for shock value. I think this quote could be expanded to understand that living with integrity begins with transparency in relationship.
- “As Christians, we should articulate the reality of a situation, but we must be careful to choose the appropriate time and manner to address it.” ~Page 59
This concept highlights the necessity of relationship in the communication of truth. The majority of ministry time must be encapsulated in relationship to communicate truths effectively, and simply cannot be accomplished by pulpit/preaching ministry alone. Discipleship is a hands-on ordeal, and all relationship for the believer is ordered toward discipleship, even those with “outsiders”.
This chapter concludes with a challenging question about whether we are adding burden to the already heavy-laden, or demonstrating freedom and love we have in Christ as Christians. I pray my life will demonstrate the latter.