I hate texting. My thumbs are clumsy at typing on my phone’s tiny keyboard, and the phone constantly substitutes the wrong word for what I meant. But I’m clearly in the minority: A recent survey indicates that eighty percent of Americans prefer texting to voice calls (For more on the complexity of texting, see Nick Pitts’s Can you hear me now? Etiquette for texting).
Here’s the problem: When people whose relationships are based on texting begin to interact face-to-face, what they typed is often not who they are. When our words and our actions disagree, actions win.
Let’s apply this principle to faith. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis describes the “popular idea of Christianity”: “That Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that if we only took His advice we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war.” Lewis believes that this sentiment is “quite true.” However, it doesn’t go far enough. He notes that “we have never followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now?”
Lewis concludes: “If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.”
Christianity is not about advice, but transformation. Jesus was clear: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Christianity is not about following teachers or teachings, religious leaders or organizations. Jesus wants us to follow Jesus.
Your most powerful witness is the power of God in your life. When skeptics confronted the man born blind but healed by Jesus, he responded simply: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). They could dispute his theology, but not his transformation.
We cannot expect non-Christians to follow Christ if Christians don’t follow Christ. If Jesus is only a Sunday Savior or devotional topic, he is not the Christ of the New Testament. But when we experience personally the God who walked on water and calmed storms, who cleansed lepers and exorcised demons, who healed the sick and raised the dead, others will see his transforming power in us.
Think about the Christians who most marked your life. Was it their beliefs or their lives? Their theological sophistication or their passion for Jesus and compassion for you?
What Jesus did in the Bible, he wants to do in you. So ask him to manifest his presence and power in your life today. Ask the Spirit to make Christ real in your words and visible in your actions.
And know this: changed people change the world.