What is this Christian character? Writing on Christian character ligonier.org has this to say.
According to Scripture, Christian character includes the pursuit of truth, godliness, righteousness, love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, perseverance, meekness, humility, self-control, compassion, thankfulness, forgiveness, contentment, and unity. God produces Christian character in the lives of believers by faith in Christ, in the power of the Spirit, by the Word of God and the sacraments. Suffering is also an essential part of the process toward the formation of Christian character.https://www.ligonier.org/guides/christian-character
I have to say that many of the attributes found in1 Corinthians 13:4-8, are not found in many of today’s evangelicals. These attributes are the heart of Christianity. These evangelicals seem to have a form of godliness, but I am not convinced. It is the Christian character as I understand it that seems lacking. No one is perfect.
When I am asked for a religious preference, my answer is Christian nondenominational. Anyone who is familiar with that identity will expect me to act according to their understanding of the Christian character. Just because someone is not a believer, or ever reads the Bible and so forth does not mean they are not familiar with the Christian character. Likewise if I identify as a believer, or born again?
When I was growing up, my mother believed in God, trusted in God, prayed to God, and attended church when she was able. She tried not to be hypocritical when it came to her faith. But the one thing about my mom, whenever she observed anyone that she knew, who called themselves Christian, and behaved, or spoke out of character, she would say, “E Dice que es Christiana. (And she says she’s a Christian.)” Clearly, my mother expected a Christian to behave as one. I do too. If someone tells me they are Christian and go to church and such, and I hear them using foul language, or lying, I have to wonder. After all, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
As Christians, we try not to judge others, but our carnal nature gets the best of us, often. We, as a society rely on stereotypes in our daily interactions to size people up. We expect others to behave appropriately in any given situation or setting. If I attend a Christian seminar, I better act like a Christian and I will expect everyone there to behave likewise. If I am going to see a doctor about an ailment, he better live up to his profession, otherwise, he is a quack. I recall reading a tweet from a mega pastor who retweeted a post from someone he follows. It was a woman who tweeted “Some people will never like you. Don’t waste your energy- this is not a race of popularity but of purpose!”
It got me thinking. Our time on earth is not a popularity contest, it’s actually the opposite, but it should matter what others think of me, not as an individual, but as someone proclaiming to be not of this world, a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, someone whose character is defined in the Scriptures. As Christians we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Even if we have to shake the dust off, we are still to act accordingly.
For some of us, our reputation precedes us. So, when I hear that someone doesn’t like me, my first question is, “Why?” Not because I need affirmation or that I have a need to be liked. I just cannot imagine someone not liking me when they don’t even know me. Albeit, I agree that some people will never like me. And there can be a number of reasons that someone may not like me. But is it because of something I did, consciously, or otherwise?
When I worked in management, I recall some of the people that I supervised felt that I was too demanding. These employees didn’t hesitate to talk to my boss about how I made them feel. The first time it happened was during my first evaluation. I was totally shocked. I was hurt. I liked the people that I supervised. I was trying to help them. My first thought was, “They hate me.” I can remember the days when just the color of my skin, and my ethnicity elicited hate. I had no control over that. I did have control over my attitude and behavior, my responses, but not on how others interpreted my attitude and behaviors. My boss told me I had to remain cognizant of how others might interpret my attitude and actions. It was all about their perception, not mine, he said. “Some people” will never like me. So, while that may be true, I don’t have to give them reason to dislike me. And that relates back to my character.
Jesus was very critical of the religious leaders. They wanted to dismiss Jesus. We know how that ended. How many times do we dismiss people we don’t like, or perhaps avoid people that we know don’t like us? God knew His people had turned away from him. God knows well that many people hate Him. Yet, that does not stop Him from being a merciful and gracious God. If they call on His name, will He not answer? He knows those that are His. When He calls them – He says they hear His voice. I am so thankful that God spent His energy reaching out to save me. I am so humbled that God did not tell Himself “I am not going to waste my energy on that one.” Jesus offended no one and yet the people He came to save crucified Him.
The word of God says this world will never be my home. The word says that only God knows the heart of any man. John 3:16 says that God so loved. If we claim to be His, then shouldn’t we love, even the unlovable, which is all of us? If people hate me, if people dismiss me, I hope it’s because I choose Christ. Much of what happens in this world, the evil, the evil that represents itself as good, is done in darkness.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.John 3:16-31
No one is perfect, but we are being perfected, in Christ. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death (Romans 7:24)?”
Next: The narrative of God that was taught to me and the one that lead me to the cross