In today's reading, church elders sent a letter to the Gentiles. It essentially said to them, If you want to be called Christian, you don't have to get circumcised, but you do have to follow a certain code of conduct....
While the code of conduct described in that letter may seem lightly restrictive (listing only that they abstain from eating certain foods and from sexual immorality), it did encourage the Gentiles. Perhaps it said to them that, ultimately, what really mattered in being called Christian was their daily activity -- what they did and what they chose not to do.
A code of conduct, or rules and standards, create an order in life, a path that can lead somewhere or to something. If you follow the code or obey the rules and live up to certain standards, you can attain things (a car, a house, a degree,....) or titles (Doctor, MBA, Mayor,....) and all that come with such achievements (security, independence, power,....). AND if you rigorously observe certain rules and earnestly strive to reach the highest of standards, you can even attain highly coveted positions or titles.
Because high achievements often reflect discipline and perseverance, they are viewed by many with great admiration. So when you read, in less than a 2-week period, that a professional quarterback, a well-known movie actress, and a beauty queen with a state title have each engaged in outrageous, shocking, and illegal behavior, you ask, What were they thinking!? Why are they jeopardizing their hard-earned titles and careers? You can't help but think, Why didn't they try harder to live up to their titles?
It's easy to ask such questions of others, especially of high profiled individuals. However, how hard do you and I try to live up to the title, Christian? How well do you and I follow God's code of conduct? Do we abstain from forbidden activity, even the seemingly harmless? Do we faithfully strive to strengthen our relationship with God through prayer and scripture? Do we always treat others with love, respect, and kindness?
Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to live up to the title, Christian. Daily, may we faithfully strive to follow the code of conduct you've given us -- to love you and to love our neighbor. May we never jeopardize our title or neglect our relationship with you. Amen.