Tom Greco: May our banner be clear

Please read Philippians 1.

As I was preparing to speak one Sunday on how we might live out our faith, I was brainstorming with a friend about how to challenge our church members listening to my message. I shared this crazy idea to have a friend dress up in a Ninja outfit carrying an unloaded military-style weapon. As we began singing and worshipping I thought the “Ninja” would enter the worship center in a loud manner, tell everyone to sit down and then ask in a mean and menacing voice, “Who is a Christian in this room?” My idea was to see if anyone would be willing to say so, in spite of the possibility that the “Ninja” might just shoot the person who stood up.

As I shared this idea with a friend he looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “Do you know how many of our members have concealed carry licenses? If you tried this, the church would look like the ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’ movie. It would be pure carnage.” We both laughed and I replied, “So much for my creativity.”

This insane skit, however, does present an interesting question. How does anyone know you are a follower of Jesus? Is it because you wear a cross necklace? Or is it because you have a fish sticker on your car’s bumper? Maybe you have a picture of Jesus on your wall or a statue of Jesus in your garden? Perhaps you might keep a Bible on your desk at work?

The only real way for us, as humans, to know if someone is truly a Christian is to observe a person’s life on the outside. Since we cannot see the interior of their heart as God does, our only choice is to look for some exterior result or indicator of their faith.

The Apostle Paul wrote the church at Philippi, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

In our home, I have an Avery T. Willis, Jr. quote framed and sitting on my desk. I read it almost every day as a personal challenge to stand firm in my faith. Allow me to share what Mr. Willis wrote:

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.

”I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need prominence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

”My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

”I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me — my banner will be clear.”

May your and my banners always be clear!

You are loved, tg

TOM GRECO is the pastor of the Ontario Community Church. He can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The Argus Observer weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.

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