Every week on my way to church my attention is drawn to a giant billboard that stands right at the intersection where I turn. It’s strategically situated in the perfect spot to catch people’s attention from multiple directions. I realized this past week that what the billboard advertises constantly changes. Rarely do I remember what it boldly advertised the previous week and if you asked me a few hours later what I read that morning chances are I’d struggle to remember.
I’ve often wondered what I would put there if I was given the opportunity to spread any message I wanted. Would I want to convince people to go vegan? Exercise more? Understand God’s love? Check out our church? Protect the environment? All of these issues matter to me but what’s the best way to get any of these points across to truly matter to people — enough so that they’d actually commit to change? Paying big bucks for a giant sign to display a catchy slogan or shocking image for a week probably isn’t the most impactful or resourceful way for a significant change to take place.
Suddenly I remembered hearing the phrase ‘walking billboard’ to describe a spokesperson for a cause and then it dawned on me… I am a walking billboard every second of every day, but the question is, am I a very good one?
On the surface — maybe. As I was driving to church thinking about this I laughed when I realized I was wearing a “Go Vegan” shirt and had my Bible sitting next to me on the seat. If someone peered into my car they’d make two assumptions about me — vegan Christian — and then most likely make a judgment based on what they know about me personally and what they’ve been exposed to concerning these two subjects.
Sure I promote veganism, but besides the phrase on my shirt does the complete package truly reflect what it means? Am I healthy? Do I make informed choices whenever I buy a product? For the most part the answer is yes when it comes to this issue. But if I drove around in a gas guzzler with leather seats stuffing my face with Oreos and soda what does that reflect about my true commitment to the environment or my health? What matters more in the long run — the shirt I wear or the choices I make?
The question that really bothers me though is…What kind of billboard am I for Christianity? If I’m completely honest I am a much better vegan than I am a Christian. Sure I had my Bible with me but that doesn’t mean I actually opened it. I was also wearing my “I Am Second” bracelet that represents an amazing movement that demonstrates the power of God in people’s lives when they put themselves second. The problem is — how many times had I legitimately put God and others before me this week? I had to admit I was being a hypocrite.
If I wear a crucifix everyday what is my intention? Do I make the most of every opportunity to share the meaning of a crucifix with people and why it is so important, or do I just want to make a statement without really actually having to say or do anything?
On the way home from church do I scream at my kids and fight with my husband? Do I go out of my way to help someone in need or do I pretend I’m not home? Do I sit around and gossip about the people I work with or my neighbors? Do I look at others and make judgments? Do I donate money to charity so I can look good or feel proud of myself? What’s my motivation behind my actions?
When I consider all of these perfectly valid questions it overwhelms me. Just taking a look back at the last 24 hours it seems as if my billboard would be more accurate if it read “Christian Hypocrite!” It isn’t about being perfect though. None of us will ever be perfect and that’s ok, but we can be absolutely certain that we can do better and in order to do so we must take a step back and be honest with ourselves. If we really want to make a difference are we willing to put forth the effort and be a living example?
Way too often we claim to be something but we fail to be authentic. I know so many people who, as soon as they hear the word ‘christian’ or ‘vegan’ immediately cringe and run the other way because of how and what they’ve been exposed to.
If we really want to ‘win people over’ and convince them that God truly loves them in a way that will change their lives forever, what good is quoting bible verses or wearing faith based clothing if our lives don’t truly reflect what being a Christian actually means…
Upon googling the definition for Christian I found this on pathos.com:
A Christian is someone who is saved, exhibits a changed life, walks in faith, shares the Gospel, and helps teach others how to live like Christ. In doing these things, they demonstrate Christlikeness, which demonstrates how the Bible defines being a Christian.
That means you love others and bear their suffering even if they’ve hurt you or it’s inconvenient. You are committed to obedience to God because you’ve truly surrendered to him and accept his love, not because you want to be able to tell the world what a good person you are. You believe and trust that God is working all things together for GOOD despite how bad circumstances may be. You are unashamed and not afraid of standing for what is right instead of for what is more popular or easy.
When I consider what it truly means to be a Christian I realize that I have a lot of work to do, but when I remind myself that by doing so I am pleasing God I am reassured that it is absolutely worth it.
Wearing an “advertisement” for a cause or sporting a bumper sticker on our cars is perfectly fine especially when it can be used as a springboard for a great conversation. It can draw attention to the issues we care about. But when it comes to the ways in which we define and label ourselves are we being good ambassadors and are we truly reflecting the core values of what it is we are promoting? Are we being a disservice to the very cause we care about?
When I accepted Christ and became a Christian I sealed my eternity. My job now is to reflect the love of God to others so they in turn will discover that God loves them too and has a seat waiting for them in heaven as well. My life hasn’t been a very good reflection of that lately and so now it is up to me to start walking the walk.
So I challenge you to ask yourself these questions…What kind of billboard are you? As you live out each moment of the day what do your actions teach those around you? Do you send out mixed messages? When you think about the things that matter most to you are you a worthy ambassador and if the answer is no, what can you do today to change that?