The Appearance of Godliness

Years ago I read a book, Letters of a Homesteading Woman.  It was an excellent book but I don’t remember a lot of what was in it.  One quote from the book stood out, and the rest of it seemed to vanish like Brigadoon into the highland mist.


The quote made such an impact on me that I’ve repeated it often.  It said…


“My mother always said that there were two things you never had to boast about, your religion and your blue blood, because if you had even a smidgeon of either it was bound to show sometime.”


Don’t get me wrong, I believe in proclaiming the gospel as the scriptures tell us.  But that isn’t speaking of religion (James describes religion as the exercise of our faith in tangible ways) that is speaking of telling the good news of Jesus.  There is a big difference between telling the good news of Jesus and telling the good news about us thanks to Jesus.  It seems like a good thing to do.  Tell everyone what Jesus has done for you, how much better you are thanks to Jesus, the works.  But… I distinctly remember Jesus telling someone he’d healed NOT to tell everyone what Jesus had done for him.  I wonder if that is because it so often becomes the focus of self rather than Jesus.  I digress.


I think about my family.  I grew up in a Christian home.  Most people with whom I associate today would raise an eyebrow to hear that if they had lived in my home.  My parent’s Christianity was not proclaimed in the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the lack of alcohol in the cupboards or the proudly displayed “No Smoking” signs.  My parents drank, smoked, swore, watched movies that others would find ‘ungodly’, and never went to church that I can ever remember.  I learned most of my Bible knowledge from my father, my practical religion from my mother, and scripture memory from church and school.


That surprises many.  You see, mom and dad didn’t talk about whether or not they should do this or that ‘as Christians’.  They looked at the Word, found their guidance from it, and LIVED it.  When people needed help, my parents helped.  No word or implication of their “Christianity” was ever implied or spoken of.  They didn’t do these things to chalk up Christian brownie points or because they felt a “Christian obligation” to do them.  They did it because it was right.




My point?  I am tired of the self-righteous attitude that so much of the church emulates today.  Myself included.  There is a code of ethics, silent but demanding, that permeates the church.  Some of it is Biblical, much of it is pharisaical.  I know the temptation to ignore the needs of someone who irritates me but the satisfaction in knowing someone is aware of my devotion to Christ.  How pathetic.  How very pathetic.


Yes.  The world should be able to see a difference in the called out ones.  They should be able to know us by our attitude, our behavior, and to a degree by our dress and countenance.  But if throwing on a nun’s habit or Amish garb is the only way we have to show our Christianity… we’d better quit trying so hard to show it and start living it.


Somehow, I just can’t quite picture the song, “… and they’ll know we are Christians by our hem lengths…”


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