Our American culture is enamored with the big, beautiful, and glamorous. We devour every little tidbit about what celebrities (usually movie stars) wear and do, where they live and vacation, who their friends are. A television show once spent an entire week showing footage of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his fiancée having an argument in New York’s Central Park, all without any audio!
The Church in American has demonstrated this same preference for the external, ignoring the internal and eternal things of God. We make celebrities out of Christian music artists. We try to emulate the big and “successful” churches. We give more visibility, prestige, and status to high-ranking roles and “glamorous” ministries in the Church. In our preoccupation with the superficial and look good on the outside, the Church has neglected God’s calling to cultivate the inner life, person character, holiness, and integrity.
Stephen was described as full of the Spirit and of wisdom, full of grace and power and faith, who did not think it beneath himself to wait on tables for the widows. In the hour of adversity and suffering, his character was tested. When threatened with death, he remained loyal to his God and Savior and with his last breath he spoke words of forgiveness for his killers. Instead of trying to offer the world a “Christian” version of what it already has plenty of let us be salt and light in the world by the holy and godly character of our lives.
- In what other ways does the Church try to imitate our American culture? What values is the Church “buying into”?
- Do you spend time and effort trying to look good on the outside to impress other people? Where?
- How much effort do you spend pursuing holiness and integrity in your life? What do you do?
- How would others describe the type of person you are? Which qualities are of eternal value?
How Do I Act?
- Read some printed advertisements found in Christian publications. What kinds of qualities are they holding up in order to get you to buy or endorse their product? Compare these with what God values.
- Examine your recreational reading and viewing material. Choose to fill yourself with materials that will help to “set your mind on things of God” and encourage you towards holiness and Christ likeness. Cut out those materials which do not promote godliness in your life.
- Read Colossians 3:1-17. These are all relational qualities. Ask God to reveal the areas which are lacking in your life and cooperate with God’s work in you.