(Jesus said) "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16
This is a story and, as far as I know, a made-up story: years ago, a Christian baroness, living in the highlands of Nairobi, Kenya, hired a young national to be her houseboy.
After three months he asked the baroness to give him a letter of reference, so he could work for a friendly sheik, who lived some miles away. The baroness, not wishing to lose the houseboy, offered to increase his pay. The lad shared that a search for a true religion, not money, was his motivator. He had seen how the Christian baroness lived; now he wanted to see how a Muslim practiced his faith.
The baroness, realizing her poor witness, could only say, "Why didn't you tell me this at the beginning?"
This is another story and, as far as I know, a true story: during his early days in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi inquired into Christianity. For several Sundays he attended a Christian church. His evaluation was "the congregation did not strike me as being particularly religious; they were not an assembly of devout souls, but appeared rather to be worldly-minded people, going to church for recreation and in conformity to custom."
Gandhi concluded there was little in Christianity he could use, so he went his way.
Two stories, but one point: Christians need to remember they are being watched. More importantly, the Savior is being evaluated on the basis of whether we practice our faith or not. People want to know if the lofty thoughts of Scripture are mere words, or do they have power to motivate people and change lives.
Knowing that, let me ask, "How does your congregation treat newcomers?"
The truth is your pastor may preach a first-rate sermon, but before he ever opens his mouth, the congregation will have shared numerous messages with those who are looking for a spiritual home, an earthly family of faith. For example,
1. when strangers sit down next to you, are they greeted or is that reserved only for someone you know?
2. when you exchange the "handshake of peace," do you do so only with your family?
3. when people come into the back of the church, are they greeted only by the greeters?
4. do you ask whether someone needs directions ... or help with the service ... or an explanation as to why we stand up or sit down?
5. when somebody comes into your pew, do you slide down or do you make them crawl across you?
Each of these -- and so many more things we do -- are messages: ways of letting your light shine so Jesus can be seen in the proper light.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, send the Holy Spirit upon me and our entire congregation. There are people out there who need what Your Son has to offer. Keep us, our lives sand our words from being a stumbling block to their salvation. This I ask in the Name of my Redeemer. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries