The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that the difference between Christians and non-Christians has become more pronounced today than at any time in history. Or course, there's the obvious: Christians are different because they live a life belonging to Jesus, and when they die, they will go to heaven. Yet, I sense that many Christians have a self-effacing attitude about the influence their Christian lives—and their religion—has had on those they leave behind. Why? I think it's because they think they haven't made much of an impression on the world or society. It's a short-sighted and uninformed point-of-view. While I don't think of myself as an important citizen of the world, I think of myself as a man living in a temporary home at a time in history of God's choosing, where he can anticipate the greatest dividends for his kingdom. I don't expect to find out why I was born at this time, but I do know that each day I leave footprints for my fellow Christians to follow, and others to observe. Isn't that what Jesus meant when he said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last?" (John 15:16 Emphasis mine).
Whatever is of God and Christ is the fruit that will last and is the object of my passing through this world. Fellow Christians need the encouragement of my faith to spur them to greater works of love. Young-in-the-faith believers need a boost to fight temptation. Aged suffers gripped by pain and suffering need the comfort of Jesus' love and compassion that I may be able to share with them. A few are satisfied with less from me, much less—a cheerful smile and a kind word will do, and that's okay.
At the same time, the world outside my door is crowded with some who are not my brothers and sisters in faith. Jesus has made me a walking billboard for them. The example of a confessing Christian prompts them to question whether the world can deliver on its promises, or whether the prophet is right when he says, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:7). My joy and happiness makes them wonder what I have that they don't have and whether they can get some of it.
While I'm passing through this world striving—and too often failing—to be what God wants me to be, I have been able to share his wisdom with others. I have learned . . .
- That my sins are forgiven in the blood of Jesus Christ, an undeniable truth.
- That the Christian life is a pilgrimage, not a sightseeing tour.
- That the world makes promises it can never keep.
- "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere."
- That love, not forgiveness, covers a multitude of sins.
- That having a good day means living with God in your heart.
- That when you are in love with Jesus, everyone knows.
- That the whole universe exists for nothing more than to bring humans into fellowship with God.
By now you may have guessed that while I enjoy the beauty of the world and the challenges of life, I will not be sorry to leave. The things I love here will be replaced by more precious realities. The family and friends I love and respect will stay behind, but just for a moment because for me time will stop. The instant I open my eyes in heaven, they will join me and we will be surrounded by a multitude of saints and angels that outnumber the stars in the galaxies. I am convinced that God has more glorious scenes than sunsets for me to see, more beautiful songs to sing, and a more exalted company to join in praising his name.
True, I look at life differently than many. For now, I strive for a life that brings praise and glory to my God's name. It is not good enough to leave something behind. There is no honor in doing no harm. I must leave more behind than I received. A day is wasted if I cannot give someone hope, show consideration to a stranger, or offer a word of encouragement to a loved one. I must leave behind a faith that stirs other faith, a love to produce more love, and healing in my wake. I can have no greater purpose than to leave the kingdom of God richer with my passing than when I came into it.
About the Author: Wayne is a freelance over-the-hill writer with Master Degrees in History and Divinity and over twenty years in the preaching and teaching ministry. Writing credits include a newspaper humor column, articles in national and religious magazines, and Talk To Me, God . . . I'm Confused (Sept. 2010), and Voices from Jesus’ Passion, eBook format only. A 45 page eBook, You Can Make God Smile, is free. He blogs at http://anabundanceofjoy.com. He lives in Milwaukee WI and is married to Janet for more years than he can remember. They have 6 children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 and 1/2 great grandchildren.