There is an old story that goes a little something like this:
Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever lived, conquered almost the entire known world with his vast army. One night during a campaign, he couldn't sleep and left his tent to walk around the campgrounds.
As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty - a serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some cases, instant death; the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on the sleeping soldier and lit it.
The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him.
Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his
life. "Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?"
Alexander the Great asked the soldier.
"Yes, sir," the soldier responded in a quivering voice.
"Soldier, what's your name?" demanded Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?"
"My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated.
A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is your name?"
A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir."
Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye.
"Soldier," he said with intensity, "either change your name or change
Last Sunday we talked about how you will know a tree by its fruit. In one sense, we can know if a tree (or person, or organization, or ministry, etc) is good if it produces good fruit.
But in another sense, the fruit carries on the heritage of the tree to the next generation. The peach delivers the “peachness” of the peach tree, the apple the “appleness,” and so on.
In the same way, as followers of Jesus, we should reflect the nature of God in our lives. Now, that might sound like a no brainer. Of course people should look at our lives and see Jesus, and in so doing see God. But unfortunately this is not the always the case.
In a recent study, people were asked “"Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can . . . be justified?"
You would think that people who called themselves by the name “Christian” would have a clear conviction against the use of torture. But only 31% of “White Evangelical Christians” said it was “never” justified to use torture. This was less than the “Total Public,” both Christian and non-Christian combined (32%,) and significantly less than their “Secular” counterparts (41%.) 1
When self identified followers of Jesus are 10% less likely to oppose the use of torture under any circumstances than their secular neighbors, something is out of line.
One missionary scholar writes, “The results of these various polls suggest not only that self-identified Christians do not reflect Christian values but that they do not fundamentally think as Christians to begin with. Perhaps it is time to start over, and Matthew's theme of discipleship may be just the place.” (Thomas Haverly, Currents in Theology and Mission, April 2008, p.126)
If we are going to bear his name, our conduct should reflect his character. As we continue to study the teachings of Jesus, through the end of the Sermon on the Mount and on into his parables, let us continue to find ways to faithfully live out the gospel in our lives.
1.According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press [PRCPP], "Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987- 2007" (March 22, 2007), p. 25, this question was asked in five polls taken between July 2004 and January 2007