Not long ago, I was driving up Pleasant Hill Road, a busy, 4-lane road in front of our church building. I was following a woman who had a fish symbol on the back of her car along with a bumper sticker for our local Christian radio station.
Suddenly, an old pickup truck pulled out in front of the woman and cut her off, forcing her to swerve into the left lane to avoid slamming on her brakes. I changed lanes right behind her, but she was the one who had the close call.
When she was past the pickup, the woman pulled back into the right lane, and as she did, she looked over her shoulder and gave the pickup driver the finger.
Of course, I don’t know for sure that the woman driving the car was the owner of the car. She could have borrowed it from someone. Or maybe she had just purchased the car and hadn’t had time to remove the fish symbol and bumper sticker. But the greater likelihood is that it was her car, that she would have claimed to be a Christian, and that, at that particular moment, she didn’t live up to her beliefs.
First, let me say that I don’t want to come down too hard on her because we’ve all made mistakes and she may well have felt bad about what she did and repented.
But what struck me at that moment is how much uglier a sin looks when it’s committed by a Christian. An obscene gesture seems even more obscene when it’s made by a believer. A curse word or a biting comment seems even more hurtful when spoken by lips that have claimed Jesus as Lord and Savior.
When David prayed, “Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees” (Psalm 119:5), he was acknowledging the problem of inconsistency. It’s a problem that keeps the church from shining as brightly as it could in this world. It also gives our enemies ammunition to use against us.
I’m guessing (hoping) you haven’t given anyone the finger lately, but have you, in some other way, put forth an inconsistent witness? May we all be more careful to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:15)