Do we know what message we are sending out? Whether we are consciously communicating or not, we are sending a message. Our actions, our words, our tone, they all send a message. It is important for us to understand that message and ensure we are not sending the wrong message to our fellow brethren and the rest of the world.
In 1948, the dramatic film Grapes of Wrath was seen as a useful propaganda film by the Soviets. This film depicted the journey of a destitute family from their repossessed farm in Oklahoma to backbreaking work in the Californian fields. It showed the hardships and the harsh conditions of the migrant worker camps. The Soviets felt that this film would show the dangers of capitalism and illustrate the greatness of their philosophy. As the ruling officials showed the film to the people, though, the opposite reaction occurred. Instead of proving the negatives of capitalism, the people became outraged. Even the poorest American family could still afford a car, a luxury they were not able to have.
Likewise, when we espouse the message of God’s love then act in hurtful and hateful ways, we end up distorting the message. Consider James 3 8-10:
8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
Here James is pointing out the need for us to use our words carefully and always for the Kingdom. Too often we find ourselves gossiping or putting others down. How can we claim to be disciples of Christ when we do these things?
Even our words spoken flippantly will be held against us. In Matthew 12:36, Christ reminded us all that we will be held accountable to even idle talk:
36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. We are ambassadors, we are agents. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
We are to be a reflection of the Kingdom, glorifying God in all we do and say and even think. And we have all failed at this spectacularly.
To stop here would leave us all feeling defeated, as there is no way we can fulfill this task. But the greatness of the Gospel is not in convicting us, but leaving us with Hope. We, in our own selves cannot be perfect. We cannot reflect the Kingdom by what we ourselves do, say, and think. Rather, we must realize who gives us strength and who may make us successful.
Consider the vine imagery that Christ gives us in John 15:4-5: 1
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Here Christ makes it clear that we cannot bear the necessary fruit by ourselves. We need to rely upon God’s Wisdom, and His Spirit.
So let us return to the beginning. What message are we portraying as Christians. Too often we think we must portray a message of perfection. We must be beyond reproach. We must never show any dirt of our fallen hearts. But this only works if we were able to bear fruit ourselves. It is only through a close walk with Christ that we can bear fruit.
“ 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
So what are we to do? The message we are to give the world is a large and complex discussion. But the first step in that is to understand our role. We are not responsible for developing the message. We are responsible to obediently and humbly seek the Father and walk in His Path. It is through these efforts that we may give the Right Message to the world. They look at us and expect perfection, because our Lord was perfect. But Christ reached out to us in our imperfection. He did not make us perfect and leave us to maintain perfection ourselves. He is the only source of truth, of perfection, and of love.
As you go through your week, consider ways you communicate to others. Do you cut down others with your words? Do you gossip? What is just one way you can better reflect Christ in your speech? The world is watching our message. We must ensure they see God’s message instead.