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WHAT DOES A CHRISTIAN LOOK LIKE?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

30 AUGUST 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8
Joshua 1:5
Psalm 15:1-5
Hebrews 13:1-8
1 John 4:18

What does a Christian look like?

Or, more pointedly, what should we who call ourselves Christians look like to other Christians and to the rest of the world?

The first eight verses of Hebrews 13 give us an answer, or at least part of the answer:

1. Let love of the brethren continue.

This verse also ties into last week’s sermon; for when we are in the presence of fellow believers (those who believe and act as we do), it is easier for us to show this Godly love more openly.

This is due partly to the fact that other believers understand, and won't mock us for the way we are.

Furthermore, when we leave, we should feel good inside and show it with our families; thus it is important for families to come together in worship.

In other words, a Christian should look like they love everyone.

But we must take it further than just among other believers. Note verse 2:

2. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

We are also to show our love through our hospitality to strangers, no matter who they are or what they look like, or what they believe.

And we shouldn't need any encouragement to do so, as the writer of Hebrews adds to this passage.

We should just do it naturally, because the love of God is in us.

Unfortunately, we have all too often seen Christians ridiculed for a doctrinal difference, or for even being more compassionate than other members of a congregation, particularly when it comes to animal issues.

To do so is not being Christian, for it shows a lack of love.

A Christian should be known for their love and hospitality.

3. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

This passage isn't as much talking about people who are in prison for robbery or murder, as it is about those who are being persecuted for their faith; but we should not neglect the others either.

We must remember that our God is a forgiving God to all those who truly are sorry for what they have done.

So, a Christian must be seen as one who extends their love not only to other believers who are in trouble, but even to those that our society would rather forget about.

4. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

When we consider that this is just the opposite of what our society seems to practice and teach, it places an even stronger emphasis on Christians to be seen as different.

And when we look at church statistics, we come to realize that more than half of all Christians have fallen into this trap, either before becoming a Christian or, unfortunately, even afterwards.

But as we said, our God is a forgiving God; and He judges the intent of the heart, as to what we are going to do from this point forward, far more heavily than He does what we did in the past.

So a Christian must be seen as one who respects the family relationship.

5. Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,"

We so often put our trust in money or things, thinking that they can save us from hardship, and we forget about God.

We have to learn to put God first in our lives.

So a Christian must be seen as one who doesn't let their possessions change their life.

Clinging to possessions is a form of fear, and as we are told in 1 John 4:18, "…perfect love casts out fear…."

If we are thankful for what we have, and trust God for the future, we will find that we will have even more.

So, a Christian must also be seen as one who puts their full faith and trust in the Lord their God.

Many times, Moses reminded the Israelites of their need to trust in the Lord, as the writer of this Hebrews passage is reminding us as he quotes Moses' remarks from Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8 – "He will not fail you or forsake you."

The Lord Himself said this to Joshua in 1:5, so that he, as leader of the Israelites, might show the most trust in the Lord, as an example to those who didn't possess this quality.

This should be a quality of a Christian, too.

We must be confident in this trust of the Lord, as we are told in Hebrews 13:6 –

6. so that we confidently say,
"The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What shall man do to me?"

Here is another area where fear enters in, and where a Christian's love must overcome that fear.

We so often fear what other people may say, and think, and do to us, so that we can become a bad witness and become like the rest of the world that doesn't have their hope set in heaven.

So, a Christian must also be seen as a person who doesn't fear those who oppose them and their faith.

In other words, we who are Christians must be strong and consistent in our faith, as we are told in the next two verses:

7. Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

8. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.

Do you see the importance of our looking like a Christian?

It is important for others who are to follow our example.

And it is equally important that we know the Scriptures, so that we will know when others are consistent with and in the word of God, and live as an example of the Word, in order that we ourselves will not follow the wrong example.

For Jesus Christ is indeed the same throughout time.

The Word of God does not change from day to day, but it is consistent, in order that we not become confused.

Our lives would be so much less complicated if we would just realize this fact, and live by it.

Remember, we who are Christians are not really citizens of this land, but of heaven; and as such, we are God's ambassadors to this community.

Now listen to the question that David asks of God about who such people are, and the description of them, that he wrote in Psalm 15:

1. O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent?
Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?

2. He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.

Note what this says: that such a person speaks truth in their heart, and not simply with their mouth.

3. He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4. In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the Lord;
He swears to his own hurt, and does not change;

In other words, we are not to flatter or exalt a person who does evil in the sight of God, so that others won't get the wrong impression.

5. He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken.

Each of us must honestly ask our self, "Is this a description of me?"

If it is, then go forth and build upon it.

If it isn't, then let this be a reminder to us of what we must do, and what we are to look like.

God really, truly, and deeply loves us; and when we rebel against Him, we hurt Him very much.

Let us here and now resolve to look more like the Christian that God wants us to be, and more like the person whom Jesus died for.

Amen.

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