February 3rd 2009

God’s Sandwich Men

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Philippians 1:27 (NIV)

A few weeks ago I was in London near Piccadilly Circus. You’re likely to meet all kinds there, from the super rich to the totally down and out.

I saw a very dirty, unshaven homeless man, wearing a tattered overcoat that looked and smelled like it had done previous duty as a horse blanket. His skin was blotchy, his eyes bleary and he urgently needed a shave and a haircut. A cigarette butt was dangling from his lower lip, and he was clutching a can of beer. He was a earning a few pounds as a ‘sandwich man’, walking around wearing an advertising bill board.

The billboard proclaimed in big fluorescent letters ‘Be healthy, look beautiful, tan your way to success’- apparently he was representing a local tanning salon. He didn’t make me want to go there.

I felt like going to the salon and suggesting they found someone who looked a bit healthier and more successful to represent them. But it really wasn’t any of my business.

My business, and yours, is representing the Kingdom of God.   II Corinthians 5:20 (NIV) reads, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”  Suppose God asked you to walk around for a few hours each week wearing a big sign saying something like ‘Be kind, be loving, be graceful, be a Christian’. You’d be pretty careful what you wore, and how you behaved, wouldn’t you? Thankfully, God does not expect us to do this literally.

However, a Christian’s conduct should be a witness that there is an alternative to the vanity, selfishness, lust and greed that is so often the ‘default mode’ way of life in this world. As it says in I Timothy 4:12 (MSG), “Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.” We must be careful not to be like that poor fellow I saw, whose appearance and behavior shrieked out a message that was the very opposite of what he was supposed to be representing.

Father in Heaven, as I go about my daily life, let my conduct faithfully represent you; as though I wore a sandwich board, so that when people come into contact with me, they read ‘Christian’ in my behaviour and speech.

Study by John Halford

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