Our pastor started with a great joke this morning; it went something like this:
I work for Purina dog chow company and recently I attended a dog food convention for my work. On the first night of the convention the key note speaker was a man who is very high up in the company. He opened up his talk with a series of questions to which the entire crowd responded. It went like this:
Man: Who makes the best dog food around?
Crowd: Purina dog chow!
Man: Who has the best dog food delivery system?
Crowd: Purina dog chow!!
Man: Who has the best packaging and advertising, the best branding, around?
Crowd: Purina dog chow!!!
Man: Then, why doesn't Purina dog chow have the best sales around???
To which the crow was silent for several moments. Then, finally, one lone voice at the back of the crowd cried out: Well, sir, the dogs just don't seem to like it.
The pastor clarified that of course we're not "selling" Christianity. But the truth of the matter is that Christianity is the best - Jesus paid the price for our sin if we'll accept it, God sends the Holy Spirit to live inside us to teach us, provide direction, convict us of sin and empower us. We are truly blessed. Yet - why do so many find Christianity so unattractive? Why don't they like it?
There's lots of answers to these questions. But, certainly, one of the reasons many are turned off to Christianity is Christians. As a group we can be so self righteous.
In church this morning we looked at the passage in Luke 18:9 - 14:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
1 4"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."Don't you find yourself feeling compassion toward the tax collector in this story and frustration with the pharisee?
The tax collector recognized who he was and his need for God; he was filled with faith. The pharisee was so full of himself that he wasn't even looking to God.
What Jesus said in that 14th verse here really hit me as I was sitting in church. Jesus said that if we choose to exalt ourselves, then God will humble us. But if we choose to humble ourselves, then God will exalt us. I don't know about you, but when God is dealing with me, I'd rather it be exalting me, then humbling me.
Like I talked about in my post over at Kingdom Bloggers this past week, it's not about false humility - thinking all about what a less than, worm in the dirt, I am. When I do that, the focus is still on myself. True humility is putting others first. There were some real life examples of how to humble oneself that came up in the sermon, plus some additional ones I've thought about for my own life, that I found helpful:
When someone cuts you off when you're driving, let it go. Go head and have the attitude concerning that other driver, that he just must really need to get where he's going quickly.
Don't tell others all about your accomplishments. Just do what you're meant to do and remain silent.
When I've done something for my teen sons, or anyone else, and they do not show appreciation, count it joy because I've done it as unto the Lord, not for the praise of others.
If I'm ignored when I go to church, don't stress out about it. I'm not there to be noticed by others or have my ego stroked. Look around and see if there is anyone around me who might be feeling left out, and make sure to reach out to that person.
When my boss at work doesn't seem to realize what an incredible job I did, how above and beyond I went, and how much money I make for the company - don't sweat it. I work hard for God, not for the praise of my boss here on earth.
What about you
- Why do you think so many people are turned off to Christians?
- Would you rather humble yourself or have God humble you?
- What are some ways in daily life that you can humble yourself?