Read: John 13:35
“In Him you also…were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit” Ephesians 1:13 (NRSV)
A recent article in our local newspaper reported that part of the initiation of members into a Central American criminal gang involves being tattooed with a distinctive letter and number. This insignia allows readily identification by other gang members living in other areas but unfortunately for gang members, it also alerts immigration authorities to potential lawbreakers in our midst!
This story prompted me to consider what might identify us as Christians in our community. There seems to be an abundant of crosses and rosaries draped over car mirrors and Jesus bumper stickers and license plates in our area of the country but are these valid identifiers of true followers of Christ?
After pledging our lives to Christ, we often imagine we will automatically become Christ-like and are unaware there will have to be considerable effort exerted by us to even partially attain this goal. Even the manner of striving must be learned, some new Christians try so hard to become Christ-like that the task becomes overwhelming as they discern the many areas of their lives that need changing. Consequently, they frequently become discouraged and finally give up and return to their previous style of living! The missing element in their endeavors is that they rely on their own efforts and do not allow the Holy Spirit to take over and let Him guide and strengthen them.
Often this simple prayer offers a good start: “O Lord, You know that I am trying to become more like You. Provide me with the strength and guidance as I pursue this goal. The next step is to trust the Lord to “fine tune” your responses.
The key is to sincerely want His assistance and slowly through Bible study, conversations with Christian friends, and attending church we will become more effective witnesses for Christ. Keeping in mind the things we do, the language we use, the patience we show, the degree of honesty we manifest even when supposedly others would never notice its lack can display His presence within us.
However, the main key to letting others know that we are truly followers is based on Jesus’ words when He said, “They will know you are My disciples by your love.” And as the Apostle Paul proclaimed: “Love does no wrong to anyone, that’s why it fully satisfies all of God’s requirements…Roman’s 13:10 (The Living Bible)
So although we may not have a tattoo to indicate our faith, as the old hymn states, “They will know that we are Christians by our love”.