To say that we do not care how we are viewed by others would be inaccurate. Every house I’ve visited has at least one mirror!
As Christians, our desire to be viewed in a positive way does not end with grooming or dress. We desire, and even count it a privilege, to be viewed as compassionate, caring and ‘connected’ relationally with God (I.E. I talk with Him and He talks with me).
Several weeks ago a co-host on a popular show raised eyebrows for mocking Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian Faith. Apparently, in her view, Christians who talk (or pray) to Jesus and sense His response are mentally ill. As I processed the accusation made by this co-host I wondered if that is how the world views me. Do they think I am mentally ill because I confess to have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Over the years, like many of you, I have had individuals in the work place, at family outings or when visiting someone at the hospital, ask me to pray for them or a critical circumstance they were going through. They did not request my prayers because they thought I had a religious ‘mental illness,’ but because they believed I had a spiritual ‘connection’ with God.
One such example of this occurred many years ago. I routinely delivered pipe, valves and fittings to a jobsite in Cincinnati. The foreman of the job was a very rough and crude man. He often publically mocked me for my open faith in Jesus Christ. However, one day, after I dropped off my supplies for his crew, this man motioned for me to follow him to a vacant building nearby (he didn’t want anyone to see him talking with me). Once in the building, he turned towards me and said, “My brother is in the hospital. I think he’s going to die. Will you go visit and pray with him?” I was both shocked and honored by the request. Arriving at the hospital, I was able to lead his brother to the Lord. The very next day he passed away. The next time I saw the foreman on the job he pulled me aside to the same vacant building and said, “Thanks for visiting my brother. I didn’t know who else to ask, but you.”
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Just because someone mocks your Christian Faith does not mean they deny its importance and value! When they experience the pressures and sorrows of life, they will seek for someone who is compassionate, caring and ‘connected’ relationally to God (Galatians 6:9)! While some may characterize this spiritual relationship as mental illness; others call it “a very present help in time of trouble” (Psalms 46:1).
The writer is the pastor at First Baptist Church, 309 E. North St., Sidney.