Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that . . . they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
–1 Peter 2:12
The Gallup Poll regularly surveys the attitudes and actions of Americans, especially Christian Americans. George Gallup Jr., a Christian himself, once gave an interview about his work and the trends he noticed among religious and nonreligious people. When the interviewer asked whether church attendance is a good predictor of people’s behavior, here is how Gallup responded: “There’s little difference in ethical behavior between the churched and the unchurched. There’s as much pilferage and dishonesty among the churched as the unchurched. And I’m afraid that applies pretty much across the board: religion, per se, is not really life changing. People cite it as important . . . but it doesn’t have primacy in determining behavior.”
No wonder the world today views the church as increasingly irrelevant and impotent: they see no difference in the lives of Christians and non-Christians. Instead of us influencing the world, the world has influenced us. We are in danger of what Jesus talked about in Matthew 5:13: “If the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
What about you? Have you lost your saltiness? Have you lost your distinctiveness as a Christian? Have you come to resemble the world more than the world has come to resemble you? Ask yourself, “Is there any measurable difference between my values, actions, and attitudes and those of the non-Christians around me? Is there a difference in what I am really chasing after in life?” If unbelievers look at us and see that our marriages, our relationships, and our attitudes are no different than those of unbelievers, then all our efforts to share the gospel will fall flat.
The Christians at Corinth had forgotten that truth. They were an influential church. They were a growing church. But they had lost their distinctiveness. They had allowed the world to shape them. And because of that, their witness in the city of Corinth was about to be extinguished.
We cannot allow the same thing to happen to us today. That is why we are going to spend the rest of this year in 1 Corinthians. As we study Paul’s answers to the Corinthians’ tough questions about the Christian life, we are going to discover God’s wisdom for living in a darkening world.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Answers to Tough Questions” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
George H. Gallup Jr., as quoted in Jim Berkley and Kevin Miller, “Vital Signs,” Leadership (Fall 1987), https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/1987/fall/87l4012.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.