As a Christian, you talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?

If you have ever wondered why our wider culture can be so skeptical of our religion, the reason may be hiding in plain sight.

It’s not a question of awareness. Muslim or Buddhist, believer or non-believer, who doesn’t know something about Jesus, his teachings and his life? If Jesus were alive today, he’d surely have more Instagram and Twitter followers than anyone else on the planet.

So, it’s all the more puzzling for those non-Christians who are left scratching their heads as to why those who claim to follow Jesus—who spend hours every week talking, reading, and hearing about him—bear so little resemblance in their words and deeds.

What, then, is one of the biggest ways we go wrong?

Here’s the deal: when churches focus on trivial things, on the details that don’t matter, we’re not growing as a community. We’re not bridging that divide between talking about following Jesus and actually following him.

So, what should we be focused on instead?

According to Paul, it’s pretty simple. Whenever our communities get together—be it to worship, to pray, to study, to eat—we need to focus on what matters most.

And what Paul says matters most is LOVE—love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

If our time together is spent focusing on love like that—studying it, reckoning with it, claiming it for our own—that love, says Paul, will fill us. And we will grow. And we will change. And our capacity to actually follow Jesus will expand.

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Because LOVE itself is a game-changing force. It gives us the conviction to stand up, not step back.

When we strike up a conversation with someone and we realize partway through that the campaign signs on their lawn are different than our own, that love helps us to breathe deeply and see that person not as a Democrat or Republican but as a child of God.

When we’re confronted with the undeniable reality that people with more melanin in their skin are more likely to be killed or thrown in jail than people with less melanin in their skin, that love will cause us not just to stand for justice, but to struggle and fight for it no matter the personal consequence.

And if we get to that point
if we start acting like THAT
and doing these things,
then when the wider culture looks at us,
no longer will they see a bunch of hypocrites
who have missed the point of the guy they claim to follow.
Instead, what they’ll see is a community of people
who have once and for all
bridged the great divide
and are ACTUALLY
following Jesus.

May it be so!