Ask yourself, “Are you the faithful Christian you claim to be? It is very sad but true, that many Christians are like chameleons. When they are at church they act like Christians. When they are out in the world, they act like the world. You need to realize that people are watching you because they know your profession. Not only family members, relatives, workmates, but also those you associate with regularly even though you are not very close to them. What is the image other people have of you? It may be a true image of you or a façade, but in one way or another, you are known.
Even Jesus knew that His reputation was known in one way or another, among the disciple He associated with. “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:13–15. The question was a two-part question: “Who do men say that I am; But who say ye that I am?” This statement clearly shows that Christ knew that society knew Him.
The disciples’ answers teach us a good lesson! “And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” The people had a good reason to think that Jesus may have been Elijah, or Jeremiah or any other prophet because of His behavior—His words and actions. His miracles proved His power and love. His sermons gave an inspiring message of salvation to the nations. Therefore, people believed Him to be prophet. Now ask yourself, what do people think of you? “Who do men say that you are; and who do you say that you are?”
In 2015 I visited some new baptized members and interested souls who were very happy to join the International Missionary Society, SDA Reform Movement in different places in Congo. I held seminars from October to December 2016. The main question I asked was, “Who do you say that you are?” The different answers helped me to know what image they had of themselves. I would the ask, “Then what do men think and say that you are?” The different answers revealed the hope of the believers: “we know that we are a peculiar people, the remnant church, God’s chosen generation in these last days, but men say that we are extremist reformers, the wrong flock. . . .” What a strange and opposite opinion. Imagine you believe that you are the son or daughter of God while men think that you are lost in a fallen church! This is not a problem as long as we are true before God. He knows His people. On the other hand, what a delusion it is to ignore one’s true identity—to think that you are serving God while you are not. This is what we are called to examine carefully so that we may reflect exactly what we are. It is important that we know who Jesus is and where we stand concerning Him.
LIVING EPISTLES: IN EVERY ONE OF HIS CHILDREN, JESUS SENDS A LETTER TO THE WORLD
We are like an open letter to all the inhabitants of the world! “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:2–3
“The children of God are called to be representatives of Christ, showing forth the goodness and mercy of the Lord. As Jesus has revealed to us the true character of the Father, so we are to reveal Christ to a world that does not know His tender, pitying love. ‘As Thou hast sent Me into the world,’ said Jesus, ‘even so have I also
sent them into the world.’ ‘I in them, and Thou in Me; … that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me.’ John 17:18, 23. The apostle Paul says to the disciples of Jesus, ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ,’ ‘known and read of all men.’ 2 Corinthians 3:3, 2. In every one of His children, Jesus sends a letter to the world. If you are Christ’s follower, He sends in you a letter to the family, the village, the street, where you live. Jesus, dwelling in you, desires to speak to the hearts of those who are not acquainted with Him. Perhaps they do not read the Bible, or do not hear the voice that speaks to them in its pages; they do not see the love of God through His works. But if you are a true representative of Jesus, it may be that through you they will be led to understand something of His goodness and be won to love and serve Him. Christians are set as light bearers on the way to heaven. They are to reflect to the world the light shining upon them from Christ. Their life and character should be such that through them others will get a right conception of Christ and of His service.” –Steps to Christ, p. 115
“The work of the Spirit of God in regeneration, preparatory to the work of the ministry in conversion should combine to result in living epistles—lives that give documentary certification of our official status and personal character as children of God. The lives of saints should reflect the image of their Creator and Saviour, Jesus Christ wherever they are. They should be an epistle or letter to the world showing the grace of God in their lives. Do we think, speak, and act as Jesus Christ, the perfect standard of godliness?” http://www.letgodbetrue.com/pdf/living-epistles.pdf
All men should know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ by our love (John 13:15). He suffered unjust treatment to give us an example of the suffering we will endure (1 Peter 2:18–21). Are you a living epistle of Jesus Christ, who has wrought a great and glorious work of grace in you? Or are you a book that can be read of all men that is not any different from other natural men?
“If we do represent Christ, we shall make His service appear attractive, as it really is. Christians who gather up gloom and sadness to their souls, and murmur and complain, are giving to others a false representation of God and the Christian life. They give the impression that God is not pleased to have His children happy, and in this they bear false witness against our heavenly Father. Satan is exultant when he can lead the children of God into unbelief and despondency. He delights to see us mistrusting God, doubting His willingness and power to save us. He loves to have us feel that the Lord will do us harm by His providences. It is the work of Satan to represent the Lord as lacking in compassion and pity. He misstates the truth in regard to Him. He fills the imagination with false ideas concerning God; and instead of dwelling upon the truth in regard to our heavenly Father, we too often fix our minds upon the misrepresentations of Satan and dishonor God by distrusting Him and murmuring against Him. Satan ever seeks to make the religious life one of gloom. He desires it to appear toilsome and difficult; and when the Christian presents in his own life this view of religion, he is, through his unbelief, seconding the falsehood of Satan.”–Steps to Christ, p. 116
You may hide your character before the people and think that it is not known, but more people know you than you may realize. Remember that He that sees the secrets of the heart, sees you and knows your intentions.
YOUR DEEDS ARE WELL KNOWN
In Egypt, when the Hebrews were enslaved, Moses wanted to save one Hebrew; he tried his best to hide his secret but people knew.: “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown up, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.” Exodus 2:11–14
From this story we learn that we all need to think carefully about our actions and do only good because even when we think we are in private our actions may not be unknown. Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” “Ye are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:13–14. Those two words were very significant at that time and also today.
SALT OF THE EARTH
Salt “is valued for its preservative properties; and when God calls His children salt, He would teach them that His purpose in making them the subjects of His grace is that they may become agents in saving others. . . . Christians who are purified through the truth will possess saving qualities that preserve the world from utter moral corruption. Salt must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must penetrate and infuse in order to preserve. So it is through personal contact and association that men are reached by the
saving power of the gospel. They are not saved in masses, but as individuals. Personal influence is a power. We must come close to those whom we desire to benefit. . . . We shall come close to them till their hearts are warmed by our unselfish interest and love.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 36
How can we be a good influence if we are not converted ourselves? It is true that “without a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour it is impossible to make our influence felt in a skeptical world. We cannot give to others that which we do not ourselves possess. It is in proportion to our own devotion and consecration to Christ that we exert an influence for the blessing and uplifting of mankind. . . . By our lack of the grace of Christ we testify to the world that the truth which we claim to believe has no sanctifying power; and thus, so far as our influence goes, we make of no effect the word of God. ‘If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.” –Ibid., p. 37
The only one way to become the salt of the earth: “When love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not because of favors received from them, but because love is the principle of action. Love modifies the character, governs the impulses, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love is as broad as the universe, and is in harmony with that of the angel workers. Cherished in the heart, it sweetens the entire life and sheds its blessing upon all around. It is this, and this only, that can make us the salt of the earth.” –Ibid., p. 37–38
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1–2. Isaiah foretold that darkness will cover the people. If we look around us, we can all testify that the Bible is correct!
“But when we turn toward the Sun of Righteousness, when we come in touch with Christ, the whole soul is aglow with the brightness of the divine presence. Christ’s followers are to be more than a light in the midst of men. They are the light of the world. Jesus says to all who have named His name, You have given yourselves to Me, and I have given you to the world as My representatives. As the Father had sent Him into the world, so, He declares, ‘have I also sent them into the world.’ John 17:18. As Christ is the channel for the revelation of the Father, so we are to be the channel for the revelation of Christ. While our Savior is the great source of illumination, forget not, O Christian, that He is revealed through humanity. God’s blessings are bestowed through human instrumentality. Christ Himself came to the world as the Son of man. Humanity, united to the divine nature, must touch humanity. The church of Christ, every individual disciple of the Master, is heaven’s appointed channel for the revelation of God to men. Angels of glory wait to communicate through you heaven’s light and power to souls that are ready to perish. Shall the human agent fail of accomplishing his appointed work? Oh, then to that degree is the world robbed of the promised influence of the Holy Spirit!” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 40
Shine wherever you are, whenever and in in whatever situation you are in. “Jesus did not bid the disciples, ‘Strive to make your light shine;’ He said, ‘Let it shine.’ If Christ is dwelling in the heart, it is impossible to conceal the light of His presence. If those who profess to be followers of Christ are not the light of the world, it is because the vital power has left them; if they have no light to give, it is because they have no connection with the Source of light. In all ages the ‘Spirit of Christ which was in them’ (1 Peter 1:11) has made God’s true children the light of the people of their generation. Joseph was a light bearer in Egypt. In his purity and benevolence and filial love he represented Christ in the midst of a nation of idolaters. While the Israelites were on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, the true-hearted among them were a light to the surrounding nations. Through them God was revealed to the world. From Daniel and his companions in Babylon, and from Mordecai in Persia, bright beams of light shone out amid the darkness of the kingly courts. In like manner the disciples of Christ are set as light bearers on the way to heaven; through them the Father’s mercy and goodness are made manifest to a world enshrouded in the darkness of misapprehension of God. By seeing their good works, others are led to glorify the Father who is above; for it is made manifest that there is a God on the throne of the universe whose character is worthy of praise and imitation. The divine love glowing in the heart, the Christlike harmony manifested in the life, are as a glimpse of heaven granted to men of the world, that they may appreciate its excellence.” –Ibid., p. 41
“As the rays of the sun penetrate to the remotest corners of the globe, so God designs that the light of the gospel shall extend to every soul upon the earth. If the church of Christ were fulfilling the purpose of our Lord, light would be shed upon all that sit in darkness and in the region and shadow of death. Instead of congregating together and shunning responsibility and cross bearing, the members of the church would scatter into all lands, letting the light of Christ shine so that the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ be speedily be carried to all the world.” –Ibid., p. 42
RESIST THE PRESSURE TO CONFORM
Take heed that your light become not the darkness. The world to a large degree is controlled by Satan, in God’s permissive will. The Apostle Paul calls Satan “the god of this world.” 2 Corinthians 4:4. John wrote, “The whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19. It is under the control of the wicked one whose influence is seen in most of current society. There is danger of even us becoming darkness and losing our savour.
Today true Christians are under intense pressure from without to conform to the thoughts, goals, and actions of the world. Young people often face great pressure from their peers to drink alcohol, take drugs, and engage in immoral sexual behavior. Not doing these things leaves one open to ridicule.
The pressure to conform is also apparent in young children. They are pressured to dress like the world, talk like the world, and adopt the same attitudes as others in the world.
Why does the world want to pressure true Christians to conform? If they are successful, conformity will soothe the consciences of those who are in the world or are worldly Christians. The life of a dedicated Christian in these last days an open, visible rebuke to their sin and they do not like it. On the other hand, a Christian who joins them in their sinful lifestyle is an open affirmation of their sin. So what are we to do? We should not only resist the pressure to conform, but also stop thinking and acting like the world. I repeat again: Too many Christians are like chameleons. They show sincerity in spiritual matters at church and act like Christians when there; but, when they are out in the world, (especially when they think no one can see them) they act like the world.
Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters.” Luke 16:13. The Apostle James wrote, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4. It is impossible for a Christian to enjoy the acceptance of the world and all its sinful pleasures while simultaneously enjoying the peace and assurance that comes from a saving relationship with Jesus. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3
I ask you to consider, “Who are you? Who do men say that you are? Who do you claim to be? Are you known as you really are? Who do you say that you are? Although we are under relentless pressure to conform to the world, we can resist and remain faithful and continue being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
“But the sad truth is that millions of professing Christians around the world are searching for a way to strike a comfortable compromise between their convictions and the wicked world in which we live. Yes, [you and I] are under relentless pressure to conform to the world. The devil is always offering to negotiate our values and principles. He rarely uses an all-out frontal assault, but rather by virtue of internal erosion where, little by little, we are pressured to compromise our beliefs in small increments.
“Compromising with the devil is deadly to the spirit and always fails in bringing any lasting satisfaction. Our Lord clearly told us we cannot play the middle. ‘He that is not with Me is against Me’ (Matthew 12:30). And as the Chinese say, “You cannot cross the river with your feet in different boats.” In reality, it is impossible to truly compromise with the devil, because any attempt to compromise with Satan will ultimately become total capitulation. Only by constant dependence on God and personal vigilance can we hack off the tentacles of this monster.” https://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/19/t/compromise-conformity-and-courage
May the Lord strengthen us to not hide our identity. “We are Seventh-day Adventists. Are we ashamed of our name? We answer, ‘No, no! We are not. It is the name the Lord has given us. It points out the truth that is to be the test of the churches.’” –Letter 110, 1902
In Egypt, Joseph said finally “I am Joseph”; he made himself known as he is to his ten brothers. Read Genesis 45:5. “We are Seventh-day Adventists, and of this name we are never to be ashamed. As a people we must take a ﬁrm stand for truth and righteousness. Thus we shall glorify God. We are to be delivered from dangers, not ensnared and corrupted by them. That this may be, we must look ever to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” –Letter 106, 1903. Amen.
Victor Shumbusho, DR Congo