Ours is a hell-bound, degenerate world, and you know it. Political corruption abounds. International peace, a splendid ideal, continues to blow up in our faces. The crime rate escalates as domestic violence and gang wars and drug traffic and overcrowded jails continue to plague society. Pending legal cases choke the courts of our land with an endless litany of litigation. And even when cases are finally brought to trial, no courtroom or prison cell can remove madness from minds or hatred from hearts.
Satan, our relentless enemy, has a game plan, and it's on the board. Knowing that his days are numbered, knowing that he has an appointed amount of time before the scoreboard counts him out, he holds the world in his lap and gives it directions, implementing his strategy day after day.
If our Christian message is a mirror image of the message of the world, the world yawns and goes on its way, saying, "What else is new? I've heard all that since I was born." But if the Christian lifestyle and motivation and answers are different, the world cannot help but sit up and take notice, thinking: How come they live in the same place I live, but they are able to live a different kind of life? Why is their love so deep and lasting and ours so shallow and fickle? How is it that she can forgive and never hold a grudge? Why do these people have so much more compassion, kindness, integrity, and patience than anyone else I know?
Do you get the message? It's the difference that makes the difference!
Think about it: Do people feel more alive when they're around you? Do you create within them a thirst for God? Does anyone ever wonder why you are so unselfish, so thoughtful, so caring? Do the neighbourhood children want to be in your home because of the way you treat your children?
What do people see when they look at you? Do they see your good works? Do they hear your courtesy? Do they detect your smile? Do they notice that you stop to thank them? Do they hear you apologize when you are wrong? Do they see every visible manifestation of Christ's life being normally lived out through you? When they see all that, Jesus said, they "will glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
Isn't it a pleasure when someone says to you, "Why are you like that?" And isn't it a natural thing to respond, "I'm glad you asked. Let me tell you what's happened"?
"When the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first" (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones).
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.