Awhile back I read a book by former president Jimmy Carter. Although there are many who question his politics, there are few who question his character. His work with the poor and his involvement with Habitat for Humanity are just a couple of examples of what he stands for.
In his book, he asks a few questions that are real eye openers for me, as I look at my own life. I would like to share a few of those with you. Maybe you too can use them as a mirror.
The first question that made me wonder about my own life was “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I can answer that easily, I thought. Allow me to just list a few things to prove my point. I go to church every Sunday. I give my offering. I pray regularly. I try to lead a good life and set a good example. But then, the troubling thought appeared. Is this enough to convict a person of being a Christian?
How will I answer the question about going the extra mile for someone in need? And what about loving my enemy, the one who is always trying to undermine what I do? Am I guilty of loving him or her? Have I ever really made a sacrificial gift?
A rich young man came to Jesus one day with the same questions. He, like so many others, began to tell of all the good things he had done. Wasn’t this enough to prove he was a Christian? “No,” was the reply. “Go and sell what you have and share it with the poor.” And the Bible says the rich young man went away sorrowful.
These are the tough questions that would need to be answered to prove your guilt. It was not a question to determine whether or not you are a good person. The question is, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
There was another interesting point along these same lines that dealt with a tradition of the Amish faith. According to this tradition, each Sunday all the men of the church meet and are handed a book. One book contains a marker. The man who gets the book with the marker is then designated to preach the sermon that day. When asked how the person could deliver a worthwhile message with such a short time to prepare, the answer came back, “we always stay prepared.” Do we always stay prepared to deliver a message to someone in need?
And finally, the Amish man was asked the simple question, “Are you a Christian?” As he stood there in silence, he began to write, and when he finished, he handed the piece of paper to the interviewer. On the paper was a list of names. “These are the people that know me,” he replied. “Go ask them that question about me. That will give you a true answer.”
All of our lives are on trial each and every day by our God, by our neighbor, and more importantly, by ourselves. If this trial were to determine whether or not we are a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?
George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.