In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer asserts that “the most revealing thing about the church is her idea of God… She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.” As I considered this statement recently, I thought of Jesus’ declaration that “What you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45).” It is clear that we do and say the things we do because they are in our heart. The flip side of this statement is that these words and actions reveal the reality of what is in our heart.
This progression of thought makes its way back to Tozer in that the best medium for the church to communicate its beliefs about God is actions. After all, we know that “actions speak louder than words.” All of this begs an important question: Based on our behavior toward them, does the unbelieving world get the right message about God?
We’ve all likely heard of Westboro Baptist Church and their hate-filled protests that proclaim “God hates [gays],” “God hates America,” “God hates Jews,” and God hates pretty much everything. While most Christians recognize the hypocrisy of this and are revolted by their hatred, these extreme examples are not the only way to misrepresent God’s character to a fallen world. Each of us can do this in our own daily lives as we interact with the lost around us. With that said, we also have a tremendous opportunity to accurately portray our great God in those same daily situations. We need to consider what our actions – particularly our responses to social issues – are saying about God and make adjustments as necessary. Here are some questions to help in this endeavor: Do my words and actions…
- Present God as holy and just? Though unpopular, we must speak truthfully about sin. God hates sin and it violates His very nature.
- Present God as the standard for righteousness? In condemning sin, I must lead people to God not merely to my own opinion.
- Present God as forgiving? While it is true that God cannot tolerate sin, it is equally true that He provided a solution to our sin problem. I fail the unbelieving world every time I condemn their sin without offering them Christ as the means to forgiveness.
- Present God as loving? God loved us while we were yet sinners, not after we quit being sinners. I’m afraid that what the church most often communicates is that God will love you only once you think, look, believe and act like us. That’s garbage!
- Present God as welcoming? We must never forget that God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth (1Tim 2:4).” Make sure that what you say and do is always an invitation to Jesus and not a roadblock to Him.
What do you think? Are the public actions of the Christian church a fair representation of God’s character? Are there other aspects of God’s character we should communicate through our actions and words?