At the beginning of the DC Talk book, Live Like a Jesus Freak, a single quote is printed on a space all its own: “The single greatest cause of atheism today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then go out and deny Him with their lifestyle.”
The first time I read it, this quote hit me like a punch in the gut, like that feeling you get when you’ve just left for vacation and realize you left your wallet at home. It left me with the sudden, crashing realization of a simple truth. It was something I’d like to think I’d known all along but had never seen or heard put into words.
In the New Testament, in Romans, Paul strikes out with seemingly pointless venom at Jews perceived as hypocrites – especially those who flaunted their piety on street corners and prayed loudly enough to be heard over all other voices in the church. Although they didn’t themselves know it, they were undermining the Christian faith for many would-be converts. Today, especially in our own culture, we see this all the time. Scrolling through profiles on Facebook the other day, I was surprised to see how many people on my “friends list” identified themselves as Christians, even though this might have been the last way I would have described them based on their lifestyles. Startled by how sharp this contrast was, I started to make a conscious effort to change my own lifestyle, and people noticed. Through the actions I took, that I believe were sincere, people saw Christ not only move in the lives of others, but in mine as well, drawing me closer to Him.