I was listening to my Pastor, Dave Gibson, preach a sermon based on Titus 2:2. (2Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.) He made the point that we who are the Body of Christ are constantly “read” by other people and we either demonstrate Christ-like attributes or we do not. This started a flood of thoughts in my mind and prompted me to take it a little further. Sorry Dave, but I probably missed what you said after that!
Not only are we “read” but in a sense we are tasted and experienced by the world. I began to think about how a wine connoisseur evaluates a bottle of wine. Terms begin to swirl like bold, vibrant, earthy, acidic and the list goes on and on. Now, I am certainly not a wine connoisseur! If not for the spell checker feature of my software, I would not even be able to spell it! But I have always been amazed at people who had so finely tuned their palette that they could give a thorough evaluation of a wine from only a taste or two. They can easily spot an inferior wine with very little effort.
In a sense, society has been trained to be an expert in making quick assessments of other individuals with which they come in contact. The evaluation metrics that they use are not always fair and are inconsistent to a degree, but they can generally give a pretty fair analysis of a person given enough exposure. Of course without the exposure, there is no evaluation whatsoever resulting in zero impact. (note to self: expand in a different post) It seems that a wine review can be broken down into three basic parts: the first impression, general characteristics, and the finish.
With this in mind, I offer the following possible reviews of a Christian by a people connoisseur. This is certainly not an exhaustive set, but hopefully enough to make a point.
Review # 1 – Highly acidic on the tongue resulting in a very unpleasant experience. I could not bear to finish the glass.
I cringe when I think of all of the times when I have made my first impression to a person in an ugly and offensive way. Perhaps it was when I was made to wait an intolerable amount of time at the bank, or when I was cut off by a careless driver. Whatever preceded my poor first impression, it does not begin to excuse the way that I represented my maker. Bottom line is that when the first impression is poor, there is no reason to look further for depth. Impression formed, forever ingrained, an opportunity lost. Testimony delivered.
Review #2 – A bright presentation with great mouth feel. Wine disappoints as it has no real depth.
How easy is this? I can remember to be gracious to the waitress at the restaurant after I leave church on Sunday, but have I made any impact? How many times have I had a chance to share my faith, or meet a need, or just demonstrate compassion and I have just gone about my business? I am humbled when I am in the presence of someone who reaches out when I do not. It is also significant when those who are facing incredible adversity or loss manage to use the situation to demonstrate God’s goodness to the rest of the world. These are people of great substance. I want to be one of those.
Review # 3 – A very robust presentation giving way to earthy tones with good depth. Unfortunately, the finish is somewhat weak.
I want to finish well. I really do. I love to see people like my father who has never let up and keeps pressing on, preaching the Gospel and defusing difficult situations. I am talking about people who work for the kingdom as long as they have strength to do so. I also admire people who find a new way of serving the kingdom when life situations and circumstances dictate a change. I want to be one of the people who get older and manage to see it as just getting nearer to the time that they can actually be with God.
Review #4 – Good first impression giving way to great depth and complexity. Prevalent notes of grace, mercy and compassion leading to an invigorating finish. Truly, a life to savor.
So I have to ask myself, Am I living a life that makes people want to take a further look? And when they look closer, am I living in such a way the depth of faith is observed? And will I finish my life in such a way that Christ’s message never dims? One thing is certain; we give our testimony many times in every day. We either act as an ambassador for God's love, grace and mercy or we give a hollow or distorted representation of our master.
So... what am I going to taste like today?