Monday, July 8, 2013

The Proof Is Inside

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
Galatians 5:16

I was driving through a quaint, little town the other day,
and I happened to glance over to the left side of the road.

I saw this sign...hanging just outside the door of a restaurant.

I mentioned it to Kevin and Zach when we met up later,
and we all decided we would love to eat there before we left town.

Anyone who would be so loyal
as to have such a flag hanging outside their door
certainly deserves and merits the support of fellow Christians.

And, I'll admit, I was curious...
and eager to see if the people inside lived up to their sign.

I mean, it is one thing to have a sign hanging outside your door that says,
"Proud American Christian".
It is quite another to have the real stuff and
behave like the One Whose name you so proudly display.

Signs are a dime a dozen, so to speak.
And while I was beyond proud of what these business owners are doing,
I wanted to prove their testimony.

We ended up eating there for lunch on our 25th anniversary,
and, let me tell you, the food was top-notch.

It was extremely tasty, fairly-priced, and presented beautifully.
However, the food was not what impressed me most.

What moved me to tears, once I got inside, was the atmosphere.

From our first step inside the door,
we found Jesus Christ on display.

Not only in the crosses on the walls,
the Christian music that was softly piping through the speakers overhead,
the Christian music memorabilia that takes up almost all of one wall,

or the Christian messages on the shirts the waiters and waitresses wear.

Not only was it that on our table we found a four-page pamphlet that is chock-full of Bible verses,
Christian sayings, and spiritual encouragement.

But, from the moment we opened the front door and stepped inside, 
we were met with warm smiles and the kindest treatment.
Just like we were coming family.
In reality, we were.
It was apparent...from the get-go,
that we were spiritually-related to these people,
though we had never met.

The thing that most showed us proof of the Lord Jesus
was the living, walking testimonies that welcomed us,
seated us,
waited on our table,
stopped at our table just to say hi,
and smiled as they walked past.

The owners, Eddie and Shawnna, (and by sign of their attitude, the waitresses, too,)
are devout Christians...and very proud of it.

When we were finished eating,
we took the time to stop and talk to them for a while.
We told them how much we appreciated their Christian testimony
and how they have Christ on display throughout the restaurant.

They told us of some experiences they've had because of the stand they take.
Out of all of the feedback they have had,
there have only been two complaints.
Both were minor.
One turned out to be a simple misunderstanding.
All of the other comments have been complimentary and full of praise.

I believe there are more Christians out there than the media would like us to believe.
We hear so much about the non-believers,
and somehow, they seem to make it front and center most often in the news.
We are left feeling alone, outnumbered, and overwhelmed.
Like Elijah felt, when he went and hid himself in a cave.
God told him there were 7,000 more....just like him...remember?
(Romans 11:2-4)
Satan had convinced him he was alone,
when, in reality, nothing was further from the truth.

It is all a cunningly-crafted illusion.
Because, in reality, there are many God-fearing, Jesus-loving, everyday people
who are sharing His love and grace and unashamed to proclaim their faith.

"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
Romans 11:5

Every now and then, God allows us to see the truth...
and find others of like mind...
who aren't afraid to stand for the right...
and not back down.

Seeing Eddie and Shawnna and the stand they take was refreshing to me.
I love the flag outside.

Even more, I love that they live up to the expectations
displaying such a flag automatically creates.

It made me search my life...and soul.
I claim to be a Christian.
I don't continually wear a flag that says,
"Proud American Christian".
But, by profession, I make that claim.
I identify myself in that way.
So do others who know me.
They know what I profess.

Do I live up to the profession?

To say I am a Christian, automatically invokes certain expectations
from those who are around me.

Saying I am a Christian, states that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
That I follow His earthly example.
That I talk like Him.
That I walk through life like He did.
That I act like Him.
That I make the choices He made.
That my attitude is in line with His way of thinking.

Saying I am a Christian, is like Eddie and Shawnna's flag.
It intrinsically implies that I am like Christ.

Talking the talk is one thing.
Walking the walk is quite another.

As I was curious to step inside and see if the behavior matched the proudly-displayed flag,
so others are curious to find proof of Christ's influence displayed in my everyday life.

The word "Christian" is kind of loosely-thrown around these days.
It is easy to attach the profession to ourselves
and feel good about being called His follower.

But, are we really?

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17

Are we still living in sin?
Or has there been a change?
On the inside?
What do others find when they see us under pressure?
When we are tested?
Are we really, truly Christlike?
Have we laid aside every, single thing that is not like Him?

Colossians 3:9 says,
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
And have put on the new man,
which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.."

It would be better to take down the sign and not fly the flag,
than to fly it and not live up to the standard it implies.
It would be best to not profess to be a Christian,
than to carry the profession and not walk the walk.

The world around us knows.
They are enlightened enough to separate true possession from empty profession.
They can spot hypocrisy,
and it is a complete turn-off to them when they do.

We can surround ourselves with all things Christian.
Christian music, Christian wall art, Christian decor.
We can wear clothes that announce we love Jesus and are His follower.
We can attach Christian bumper stickers to our car,
go to church every time the doors are open,
participate in every church activity...
even teach, preach, or sing to the top of our lungs.

But, what does God see when He looks inside?
Has there been a change?
Does He see a pure heart?
Do we love Jesus loves?
Do we Jesus forgave?
Do we treat everyone Jesus did?
Are we He humbled Himself?
Are we He obeyed?

It's best to drop the sign, if we aren't bearing the fruit.
"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..."
Galatians 5:22-23

The proof, not the sign, is what matters.
Others are testing us.
They are watching our actions...and reactions.

To profess and not produce brings a reproach upon Him
Whose name we have adopted.

Just something to think about.....
and ponder, as we walk this Christian path.

And if you ever happen to visit the neatest little town
located in the northeast Georgia mountains called, Helen,
make sure you stop by
The Meeting Place Restaurant,
located at 8797 North Main St., Suite 2.
Say hello to Eddie and Shawnna for us.
They are open every day for breakfast and lunch from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm.

The food is great.

The proud American Christian service is even better.

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