When you believe in Jesus, you’re not a Lone Ranger riding into the sunset to figure out Christianity on your own.  You become part of a group – an alternate society that wants to live life (not just “do religion”) God’s way.

The idea that Christianity is not merely a religion I find significant.  It’s popular to say “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.”  But the two are not mutually exclusive.  Christianity is both.  It is a religion. 

A religion is just a conscious practice of life, including certain ritual behaviors, that reminds me there is a higher aspect of life in the universe, something beyond life based on the creaturely senses.  That higher and extraordinary aspect informs, directs, and guides the way you live “ordinary” life.

That means that everything in my ordinary life has some connection to that higher extraordinary aspect.  It’s not just “church things” that are touched by God’s hand and it’s not only in church that my faith matters. 

When we talk about “the great commission” to evangelize, we usually start with Matthew 28.19:  Go into all the world…

But before that, Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  Jesus isn’t just on the throne in the church.  He has authority everywhere and over everything in the world.  When I go to my son’s ballgame or my daughter’s band concert – when I go anywhere to anything in the world, Jesus’ authority is there.  I’m not just there for the event; I’m His representative, His ambassador, as it were.

Every connection I make with people holds the possibility of significance for the kingdom.  And how I represent that kingdom, God’s people, becomes significant.

We are living in a time where many individuals and churches that have used the magic words method have made Christ stink in the world.  That has put an extra obstacle in the way of winning those offended by religious hypocrisy.

The first thing I want them to know is that I’m an ordinary human being.  I’m normal.  I’m not part of some creepy cult that refuses to interact with the world.

The second thing I want to do is demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in my interactions.  I want to be kind.  I want to be patient and willing to listen.  I want to express my differences and disagreements graciously and wisely.  I want to ask thought-provoking questions.  I don’t want to gossip or slander or speak ill of others.  I don’t want to be arrogant or haughty or condescending or rude.  I don’t want to be pushy or obnoxious.

I want to be to them the way I would want others to be with me.
And when we part, I want them to leave thinking, “I like him (or her)”.
If possible, I want the door open for another opportunity to build that friendship, to be able to share in the things in life out there that we have in common.

I want to just be a good and decent human being in their presence.

This may seem unimportant.  But in truth, I don’t think that most people think of these kinds of things.  They don’t think about their character or who they are or how they talk or behave.  They just expect to be accepted for “who they are”.

That’s very American.  It’s also why Americans are often deemed obnoxious.

I believe when you’re different in the ways I suggest, people notice.
And the worse society gets, the more starkly good people will stand out.
Ask any employer or schoolteacher.

And what makes you different?  Your ordinary life is directed by something – Someone – extraordinary.  And you’re not alone.  You’re part of a body of people that all live the same way.

At least that's the theory...and the hope.