Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Can Non-Christians Be Better Behaved than Christians?

Have you ever come across a person who genuinely loves the poor, engages in much social work for the less-privileged, and beams with such warmth and grace that you conclude that he must be a Christian? Have you then come to a huge shock to discover that he actually isn't? I know many people who make better Christians than me. They exhibit such good Christian graces that it puts me to shame.

Perhaps we make the mistake of directly linking our behavior to our nature. I don't think we realize that in examining a person's religious inclination to Christianity, there are actually two types of proof required. On the surface, we observe what I shall call suggestive proof of Christianity. What is this person's character, personality and behavior like? How do his actions correspond to what we would expect of a Christian? To use Christian religious jargon, we attempt to see if this person has the "fruits of the Spirit".

The problem with suggestive proof is that it can be misleading. Allow me to illustrate: let's say you come across a cat. It has soft fur, it makes a purring noise and it shakes its tail. You could say that its behavior suggests that it is, indeed, a living cat. However, upon closer inspection, you realize that there's a battery cover underneath its fur, and once you remove the battery inside the cat, it no longer purrs or shakes its tail. It actually is a mechanical cat, endowed with the characteristics that mimic a living cat.

Hence, we see that given two cats, both exhibiting behavior characteristic of a cat, we must see underneath the fur to examine if the cat has cat parts or mechanical parts to determine their true nature.

Behavior and nature are two separate issues. Yes, they can be inter-linked, and one can be used as evidence for the other, but behavior is only suggestive proof at best. The second layer of proof is what I shall call conclusive proof of Christianity, and that is a far deeper issue than behavior. It requires us to look underneath the fur, and that is a domain reserved exclusively to God and His spirit. On our own accord and by our own abilities, we will never truly know if a person is a Christian or not--our natural senses can only perceive so much. We need the illumination of the Spirit to help us in the assessment of a person's nature.

Dear brothers and sisters, don't be discouraged if a non-Christian displays better Christian graces than you. Rather than being discouraged, we should be inspired and encouraged that we can improve upon our behavior.


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