In the days of the Roman Empire, Christians were a conundrum to the society around them. Followers of Jesus did strange practices such as eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ, causing rumors to circulate that Christians were cannibals. The language of ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ was so common that pagans thought Christians were incestuous. And their loyalty to Jesus as King looked subversive to the political state.
How do you live for Christ in a world where people are suspicious of your faith? Peter says that because of the new birth, we have a new way of living. “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pe. 2:12).
When people believe that Christ died for them and trust in his work alone to reconcile them to God, their behavior changes. Holiness is not merely an act of abstaining from evil but also the promotion of good. Christ’s death has rescued us from futile ways (1 Pe. 1:18-19) and into a new way of life that is confounding to onlookers.
How do Christians confound onlookers? Their deeds are new. When reviled, Christians do not return evil for evil; when facing suffering, disciples do not threaten others. When faced with false allegations like the ones mentioned above, Christians didn’t plan verbal campaigns of self-defense (1 Pe. 2:24). Instead, they loved their neighbors. They cared for orphans and widows in their distress (Jas 1:27). They made sure there was no needy person among them (Acts 4:34). They sought to be the best citizens they could be by being full of loyalty to Christ (1 Pe 2:13-17). By living lives of goodness and virtue, it would be apparent to all that their transformation contradicted false allegations of the world around them.
How can we be a question mark to the world? It isn’t hard. We love our families. We work hard at our jobs. We care for those who are needy around us. We stay loyal to King Jesus. People will find this lifestyle radically other-oriented. In a consumer world of “me-first” people will see that the sacrificial death of Christ does the world good.
Who knows how God would be pleased to use your simple, everyday deeds of goodness for his kingdom? As Peter could say (as Jesus had said before him in Matt. 5:16), when people see your good deeds they would glorify God.
Don’t be afraid. Be the question mark to the world around you. You might be surprised how the little acts of faithfulness go a long way to provoking someone to consider the glory of Christ.
Seeking to honour Christ with you,
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, help me each day to do the simple things that honor you. Help me to love your word, your people, and your world, so that Christ might be seen as the Saviour who has transformed my life. Amen.