On many occasions, I have heard preachers ask a particular question (I’m pretty sure I dropped this chestnut before as well). They ask, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” We obviously understand the meaning of this to be about whether or not our verbal professions of faith are lining up with our behavior. When we are asked about how our journey in faith is going…we always have the same answer…something like, “I’ve got a lot of growing to do,” or, “The Lord’s working on this area of my life or that.” While it is true that God is always working in our lives (when we let Him), I have found that I love to play those “get-out-of-jail-free” cards way too often. I love to have such an excuse. I love to be able to say, “I’m only human,” or, “I’m not perfect.” But…I find myself using those more as excuses than I do as statements of reality anymore…I find myself being the thing I HATE. I find myself being a hypocrite.
Hypocrisy is defined as pretending to be something that we are not. As a Christian, my hypocrisy manifests by showing interests in or engaging in things that are contrary to the nature and/or personhood of Jesus. It means that I arrive upon the scene of a situation or conversation, and instead of either not engaging or disagreeing, I simply do what is easiest at the moment. I change my colors. I can become the most brilliantly disguised chameleon God has ever created. I have often wondered why I do this. The more I’ve thought about it as I’ve grown older, the more I realize that it’s not really about acceptance within a peer group. It’s more about momentary comfort within an immediate context. Simply put, it’s just easier. It’s a lazier way to enter the world and not stand out…even if standing out simply means that my colors are different.
I work around some really wonderful people. They have great hearts and are hard workers. Sometimes, the conversations take a very inappropriate turn. Here’s the really bad part… sometimes …perhaps even oftentimes…I am the one that turned them that way. Before long, we have gone to a place that is not only unhealthy but also potentially harmful. The irony is that I spend a lot of my time on my drive to work praying that I would be able to have some type of positive impact on my coworkers. I spend a lot of time praying for specific individuals…and what I’ve found myself praying the most is, “Please, God, don’t let me do something to embarrass you today.” I don’t hear a voiced answer to my prayers…but recently I’ve felt this impression in my soul after such a prayer. The words, that I believe to be an answer from Him, are simple: “If you don’t want to do something, then don’t do it…the choice is yours. You must choose how you want to present yourself to others and what your appearance will be.”
I hated that answer. I wanted God to say, “No problem!” and miraculously and instantaneously change my actions, words, and how people have perceived me. But He doesn’t work that way. He sets us free from our compulsions to do such and then we must act on that. We have control over our own colors. We have control over our own appearance. We have control over our integrity.
That reality hit me. OUCH.
There are several other Christians I work with that I deeply respect. But there’s one…he’s quite different from me. He is an honest man. He is a humble man. He is a man of true integrity. He’s had his issues at work just like anyone would have in a broken, fallen world. But I’ve never seen him change his colors to fit in to an environment. I’ve seen him do the opposite…but never obnoxiously…never with anything but humility. I’ve seen him bring beauty to an ugly context…or if He feels uncomfortable, uneasy, or convicted, then he respectfully and lovingly removes himself. He strikes me as a man that can look at himself in the mirror at the end of the day and say, “I gave it a go and I did my best…and my conscience is clean.”
This guy inspires me. We work together on occasion and I find myself realizing how different we are. But the areas in which we are different are ones of choice. He is no prude, but he is the genuine article. That’s what I want.
The other day, I was speaking to another young man…after a morning in which I had been particularly “chameleon-esque” in my conduct. We were leaving the building together and, wouldn’t you know it…our conversation took a spiritual turn. We had a great talk and I realized that this is the reason I’m in the world. As a follower of Christ, I’m His mouthpiece. I’m one of the torches that He has sent out into the world to light up its darkness. When I spend my time and energy changing my colors to fit in to my environment…then I cannot rightly shine the light that He has sent me out to shine.
I want to show the colors that I need to show to help my environment…to stand in contrast and beautify it…instead of allowing my environment to dictate my colors.
This is my choice. I choose my colors. You have the same choice. You and I have the same choice as to what colors the world sees. We can choose to be strange ones that are so starkly contrasted that they don’t help the background but actually make it kind of ugly. We can change to the same colors as the environment and blend right in…where no one ever sees the difference.
We can choose to show the beauty that is within us…complimenting the beauty of creation without succumbing to its uglier shades.
The choice is mine. And yours. I want to be more like my friend. I want to hold to my integrity and beautify the world around me with illumination and desirable contrast.
*Image taken from: http://jessicafeeley.theworldrace.org/blogphotos/theworldrace/jessicafeeley//blend_chameleon.jpg