A few weeks ago, I burned my arm with an iron while preparing some clothes. I shouldn't be participating in such dangerous activities, but I'm all about living my life on the edge...
Anyway, it hurt, I survived, and the burn left a mark. The iron left a mark on my arm because it was doing what it was made to do...get hot and transfer that heat into something else to effect a change. It did.
What about our lives? Do we live a life that leaves a mark, and if so, what kind of marks are we leaving on the world around us?
We were created out of the love and the goodness of a God who desires our attention, our service, and our devotion. God desires that we live a life that reflects His love outwardly to those around us. He desires that our service and devotion to Him would be great enough to leave a defining mark on our world. Does it?
We're leaving a mark, alright...and it's ugly. Our country seems to be in a divisive mood of late, and it's getting the best of us. We've become completely overwhelmed by politics, which is, at best, a game for fools. It's completely overtaken us, and we're headed in a bad direction.
Trump's ego leads him into foolish debates over crowd sizes. Of all the pressing issues that plague our country, the first line item to be discussed at the opening press briefing was a erroneous debate on the size of the inaugural crowd. I'm confused. Obama's crowd was much larger...get over it, Mr. President, and...who even cares? Stop arguing, and do something of worth. Madonna wants to blow up the White House, Ashley Judd is now a "nasty woman," and women protestors dress up as...well, you get the point. As a nation, as a people, we seem to be losing our collective minds. Actually, we've lost our collective minds. That's one of the problems...the "collective mind." We should again default to the practice of actually thinking for ourselves. Possibly, it would be good to have a firm understand of the following...
"Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep Your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your decrees!" – Psalm 199:1-5 (NLT)
Let's put that little nugget of truth on a banner and march on Washington. Whose with me?
Is the mark that you're leaving on the world defined by your political affiliation? Do people know you because of your fame as a Republican or a Democrat? If you're a child of God, but you're political views are more prominent to others that your passion for Christ...then grow up immature Christian. The dilution of our national character has largely been accomplished through the political process...so be warned. Regardless of who is currently breathing the air inside of the Oval Office, we must understand that they are not solution, nor are they the only problem.
Possibly, the defining mark that you're leaving on the world is your church attendance, or the fact that you teach Sunday School? What if you're a deacon, play an instrument at your church or keep the nursery? For that matter, what if you're a pastor or staff member? Do these things leave a mark for Christ on others around you? I would say, to some degree, yes...but, to the dismay of many that revel in their service to the church, I would offer that God's idea of service is much greater than these things...much greater, indeed.
We are challenged to go "into" the world and disciple them with the Gospel of Christ...through God's Word, our words, and our actions. That's not wholly accomplished during a church service or a Sunday School class. For the most part, that's a place full of people who should already be leaving a mark on their world for Christ. Sadly, it's often just a place of simply ignoring the call that God has placed upon our lives. We need to live out our faith...far beyond the walls of the church...loving those who dare us to hate them, having compassion on those who hurt us, and speaking the truth of Christ, in love, to a world that seems intent on the cold embrace of hatred.
Matthew 7:16 says, "You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" As news to some who may assume out of context, this verse isn't talking about the identification of a Christian; instead, it's talking about false prophets. Look around at those you allow influence into your life. Are they full of hatred? Do they stand for values that subvert God's will? Does their message hold forth real hope...hope in God and God alone? Those you allow influence into your life are leaving a mark on your life...a mark that you will most certainly pass a long to others. What mark will you be known for?
We are called to be Jesus to the world, inside and outside of the church...and inside and outside of the walls of our comfort zone...at the stadium, at the political rally, on the street, on social media, etc... To leave a mark, we have to have a walk with our Savior that is intimate, growing and alive. It cannot be a walk hidden behind the facade of "church;" it must be one that is authentic, relevant, out in the street, and intent on showing the same love and compassion that Christ Himself demonstrated for us on the cross. An authentic relationship with Christ will always leave a mark for God on the world around us.
A lukewarm iron won't leave a mark...neither will a Christian with a lukewarm passion for Christ. And so, in the middle of a world currently drowning in the hatred of politics and needing the love of Jesus...what mark will you leave?
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!