What Are You Known For?

beliefs and behaviorEveryone has a gift.  Everyone has something that makes them stand out a little bit above the rest.  Sometimes, it might not be as visible as you might think.  Gifts manifest themselves in all different shapes and sizes, but they’re there.  How do we use them?

What is it about us that distinguishes us from other people?  When people meet us, what are their first impressions?  What are the things that they see in us that last long after we have walked away, long after the conversation or interaction has ended?  What are known for?

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about this in regards to followers of Christ.  Any time that things bubbled up on the public scene that Christ followers were opposed to, you would begin to hear the murmurings.  The murmurings would turn into full-fledged press releases, or at least, it seemed that way.  People began to know us more by what we were against rather than what we were for.

The challenge here is in an age when orthodoxy is being questioned at every turn, we feel that if we don’t stand up for what we believe and stand against that which seems contrary, we are condoning that which we don’t believe.  Is that the case?  If we take no action, does that mean we are agreeing with something?  Do we have to stand opposed to something to indicate that we believe the opposite or is a viable alternative to stand for the opposite with conviction and consistency?

Honestly, I think those last two words are the key in the conversation: conviction and consistency.  We can stand against things all that we want, but if we do not consistently stand for the opposite with conviction, will our argument really be convincing?  An innocuous example.  If I say that I am opposed to the cruel treatment of animals and picket and demonstrate against all who use animals for tests or subject them to harsh conditions and yet don’t do anything to show my own compassion towards animals, how good is my argument?

Our argument is much stronger when we actually can prove our convictions with consistent lives.  If all that I do is shout on a street corner against the sins that seem contrary to my own orthodoxy and then leave that corner and do nothing different in my life to live in opposition to those sins, how strong is my argument and example?

Again, the challenge is that not speaking out against what is contrary to our own belief system seems like support or apathy.  There are plenty of “banging gongs” out there who give great speeches and then live lives that fail to support their beliefs.  If we really stopped to work on our convictions and consistency, I wonder whether our message would be heard louder and more clearly.  I think that it would.

I want people to know what I believe because that’s the way that I lived my life.  I don’t want people to have to ask what I believe, I want it to be clear by what I do, what I say, and how I live.  If my convictions are coming through loud and clear in my actions, people will know what I stand for, they will know me for these things, and it would follow that I don’t support those things that stand in opposition to it.  So, how am I doing?  How are you doing?  Are you known more for what you are opposed to or what you stand for?

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