As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13, 16). Our words and actions are to glorify God. This is in stark contrast with the ways of the unbelieving world around us. We are citizens of heaven, and we live in such a way, even though we currently live here on earth (Phil. 3:20). Our motivation for living in obedience to the Scriptures is a sincere love for God (1 John 5:3). As children of God, we desire to please and honor the Lord. Unbelievers, on the other hand, do not desire to please God and they are convicted by Christlike living. Peter wrote, “For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living – and they slander you. They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet. 4:3-5).
When we consider the world’s response, it is somewhat puzzling. Why do unbelievers care how Christians live? It is the result of Christ’s righteousness being manifested in the lives of believers and it is offensive to the lost. It pains them, due to the conviction they experience. In Scripture, as in life today, unbelievers can respond to truth in one of two ways: brokenness or anger. So, next time you encounter an unbeliever accusing a Christian (or even you) of thinking he or she is “better than everyone else,” be slow to make assumptions as to the validity of the claim. Sadly, there have been occasions when genuine believers (including each of us) have acted arrogantly toward others. But, this is not always the case when such an accusation is made.
Born again believers are sinners saved by the unmerited favor of God (Eph. 2:8-9). We are no better than anyone else. Everything we have accomplished that is good, everything God-honoring we are capable of, everything we possess that is good, all of it is from the hand of God (Jas. 1:17). A proper view of self does not result in arrogance or despair in the life of a Christian. Being saved by grace fosters humility and fills us with joy. Forgiveness and justification in Christ bolsters the soul. Believers, a proper view of self and of God, supplies insight as to why unbelievers are offended by true Christianity. They see and hear Christ in us. The Lord uses believers to convict unbelievers of their rebellion against Him. It is a mistake to think, in such moments, that the lost are rejecting us (cf. 1 Sam. 8:6-9). They are rejecting One Person – God. You and I, we are merely the messengers (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
Such knowledge should not lead to idleness. Do not cease to speak the incalculable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8b). Do not cease to pray for the souls of those who have not yet believed. They need to come to terms with the One we serve. Do not lose heart! Do not grow weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9a)! The message of the gospel changes lives! Jesus is building His Church and the gates of hades will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18b)!