I have lived in central Texas for over eleven years. I love this community. Great people and great location. I do live in a community where there is a lot of religion. Baylor University is here. Waco is the home to many para-church organizations. There are many, many churches in this community of all stripes and flavors. We even have a Christian bookstore here (we actually have something other than the Lifeway bookstores that you see in most every mall). Yet, all of that can be very deceiving. It is very easy to be religious and yet not live in an obedient walk with Jesus.
I like this story as told by John Ortberg.
"A man is being tailgated by a stressed-out woman. He comes to an intersection and the light turns yellow. Generally, in California, we all understand what the colors of a stoplight mean: Red means Stop; Green means Go; Yellow means…He stops and the woman behind him goes ballistic! Sheâ€™s yelling at him and waving at him and in mid-rant, someone taps on the window of her car. Itâ€™s a policeman. He takes her to the station where she is fingerprinted and photographed and locked up in a cell.
After a couple of hours, they let her out after the arresting officer gives her back her personal effects. He says,
Iâ€™m very sorry for the mistake. Hereâ€™s how it happened. I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing the horn and using bad gestures and speaking bad language, and then I noticed the â€œWhat Would Jesus Do?â€ bumper sticker on your car and the â€œChoose Lifeâ€ license plate holder and the â€œfollow Me to Sunday Schoolâ€ window sign and the Christian fish emblem on your trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."
People are tired of seeing all of these people in their communities who are in churches every Sunday morning but whose lives are no different (for all practical purposes) than non-Christians.
I hear the stories. Stories of people who are in churches every Sunday and yet they party on Saturday night. I hear the stories of a few business people who are church members and yet have horrible reputations in the business community. Then there is the person who not long ago who told me that she just cringes at work every time that a co-worker brings up her church. So many in the company find her to be such an obnoxious person to work with. Shouldn’t this much of a religious presence in our community make a difference in the kind of community that we live in? Surely there would be less divorce, less abortions, fewer affairs, and more help for the poor and for the neglected.
I really think that so many people just want a glimpse of the real deal. We can go on and on in our churches about the good things that are happening through our ministry. However, there is nothing more powerful than a few men and women living in the community who genuinely reflect Jesus.