Today I had the good fortune of bumping into an old Christian friend at work and spending a few minutes catching up with him. We talked a little about being men of faith at work and all that implies. In the course of the conversation, he said something that really resonated with me. He said that over the years, he’s gotten more conscious, yet less explicit, about expressing his faith at work. I knew what he meant. There were times when I was younger that I declared to others that I was a Christian but probably betrayed that pronouncement with my behaviors. I simply hadn’t spiritually matured enough yet. Charles Spurgeon talked pretty directly about this tendency in one of his many great sermons.
One of the greatest preachers of the modern era, Charles Spurgeon lived and preached in England in the nineteenth century. A stong Calvinist, his sermons never shied away from controversy and inspired a generation with his inspired, convicting rehetoric. He once said,
“It is well known that it is no guarantee of a man’s honesty that he is a member of the Church. The lives of too many of the men and women of the Church give the world cause to wonder if there is godliness in any of us. We reach after money, we covet, we follow the wicked ways of this world, we oppress, we oppress the poor and deny rights to the working class – and yet we profess to be people of God!”
Ouch. You go Charles. A not-so-subtle reminder that of all the sinners that Jesus hung around with, the folks that really upset him the most were the religious leaders that claimed holiness but ignored the important things – justice, mercy, and faith (Matt 23:23). It’s not a bad thing to want to announce to others that we’re believers, but it’s far more powerful when they observe noticeable differences in our behavior and then we get the chance to tell them why.