Over roast chicken on a rainy Tuesday night, a good friend told me a story that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.
Both of us being Northern Irish, we were playing the game of counting up our mutual acquaintances and, rather like goldfish with short-term memory and endless amounts of surprise on tap, being baffled at how we knew each other’s friends…we’re an odd wee nation, aren’t we?
Anyway, on the topic of one such mutual acquaintance, my friend talked of how this person, who provides services in the entertainment industry, had displayed less than ethical business practice towards another friend. He wasn’t bitter about it, but my friend pointed out that this person was a Christian, and that really, that wasn’t what Christians should do. My friend isn’t a Christian (and on the day I write this, has just celebrated the fact that he has been around for a quarter of a century – happy birthday M!) and I think it is poignant that our mutual friend’s faith/religious inclination was of importance in discussing his actions.
It reminded me of Ghandi’s infamous words: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
A week earlier, my sister, who works in catering on the North Coast, told me of a group of customers who had come to her coffee shop after a well-known Christian event one evening. Between the 4 of these well-dressed punters, they ordered ONE cup of tea and sat in the busy shop for several hours. When a similar incident happened again and my sister approached the customers offering them more beverages, they were less than polite to her and refused both to order anything more and to free the table for other customers. My sister’s boss noted that this was ‘religion’ and that he wanted none of it.
Is there any point in being Christians if we are not like Christ? It’s time to stop saving up our Christ-like behaviour for Sundays, or for “the mission field”. We were placed in a world that wants hope, integrity, love, peace, action, truth and if we claim to have these things, it’s time to live them. And the world is watching. It knows us, whether we like it or not. It is waiting to see what we who claim to follow Christ do. In business, in leisure, at school, with our families, in choices we make, in what we say.
And so as New Horizon begins, can I plead with you to consider your choices? There are thousands of us gathered on the North Coast to celebrate grace, freedom and truth, and to grow in our Christ-likeness. Let that start now, at the beginning of this week. In the way we speak to the waiter at the Ramore or the “wee girl” who makes your coffee on the prom, the way we (don’t) shake our heads at the traffic wardens, the noise we make when walking home late at night, the way we treat the land we are on, the way we speak to each other, the way we go about budding romances (!), and everything in between.
Traders know New Horizon is a good week for business on the North Coast. Let’s go one step further and make it a good week for people on the North Coast, too.
The world is watching. So is someone else, who, in turn, we get to watch if we need a little guidance.
“Follow me” – Jesus.
// If you fancy some further reading along these lines, check out Skeptic Blog – a young atheist’s experience of Christian conference Soul Survivor just last month.