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"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."
The early followers of Jesus were charged with breaking up homes, dishonoring their parents, lacking patriotism, practicing cannibalism and engaging in gross immorality. It was true that Christians rejected the religious rituals of their pagan parents, that some family units were broken when young people chose to be driven from home rather than to renounce their faith. Believers also refused to offer a pinch of incense to the Roman emperor and did not purchase images of him. But it was not accurate to say that they ate human flesh and drank blood at their communion service, or that they were immoral.
What were these Christians to do? Should they issue vehement denials? No! Peter exhorted them instead to look on themselves as strangers unable to accept the standards of this world. They were to make their conduct among the unsaved so attractive and pleasant that their lives would answer every charge made by their enemies. Do you know what happened? The behavior of the early believers was so pure and so good that thousands of pagans were saved. Even those who hated the Gospel couldn't help but admire the way that the Christians lived. And when a period of intense persecution came almost two centuries later, Christians were accused of ignorance, superstition, and a lack of patriotism, but they were no longer denounced as immoral, cruel or dishonest. If we who know Christ today would be lovely and pleasant in our behavior, we too could make a greater impact upon the world about us. Let's try, and watch the Lord work.
Louis Abel is pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Chiefland.