I once heard Tony Campolo say that if you really want to know if you are Christian, just ask your waitress. I really like his point, because the gospel should shape how we treat all those around us, and that begins with those closest to us. This is all the more true during the pandemic when so many people in the hospitality industry are seeing the worst side of people. This week I read a quote from D. L. Moody that I would place alongside Campolo’s statement. In fact, I suspect that Moddy influenced Campolo’s thoughts on the matter.
“If I wanted to find out whether a man was a Christian, I wouldn’t go to his minister. I would go and ask his wife. We need more Christian life at home. If a man doesn’t treat his wife right, I don’t want to hear him talk about Christianity.”
I like this quote because I believe that home and friendships are where so many of the simple aspects of faith are played out.
Too many people want to do “great things for God”, not realizing that 1) God doesn’t need us to accomplish anything for Him, and 2) being used by God to accomplish something big doesn’t indicate closeness with God or growth in the character of Jesus in our lives. After all, God used Nebuchadnezzar to accomplish His will while Nebuchadnezzar was the type of person to set up huge golden idols and punish God’s faithful people. So some live trying to do something grand for God and leave out the mundane parts of their lives from being transformed by the Holy Spirit. This is a shame because the mundane parts of our lives are the most important for actually developing the character of Christ in us.
Unfortunately, such a focus often leads to ministries and ministers who ignore, or worse , mistreat their family, friends, and employees while feeling justified because they are doing something big for God. It sounds like we may have another ministry serving as an example of this in Preemptive Love. While trying to “stop the spread of violence” it appears that their leadership may have been “bully(ing), gaslight(ing), and abuse(Ing) the peacemakers” on their own team. Jesus said that “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18) and the people closest to us are therefore going to know our hearts better than others because they have the chance to experience what is in our hearts more often than others.
We have been called to be like Jesus, but so often we would rather just do something for Him because that takes less change of our selfish ways.