Growing up outside of the church, I got some pretty interesting ideas about what it meant to be a Christian. I got these ideas by watching people who went to church and seeing what they did.
For example, one of my neighbors loved his lawn. I mean, he really loved his lawn. He had children who never played on his lawn. He was forever weed-proofing and weed-eating and perfect-trimming his lawn. Often, we saw him spraying weed killer in the cracks of his sidewalk, lest his sidewalk ruin his perfect lawn. And more than once, he shared this lovely poison with the entirety of the cul-de-sac. Like, the actual paved circle on which our houses rested and on which we kids (not his kids, but most of the neighborhood kids) played kickball nearly every night.
And heaven forbid that kickball go into his perfect yard. Now, we were kids. We played on grass. Most of us didn't care. So when the ball went into his yard, our instinct was to run and get it. Oh, was that ever a mistake. Mr. Perfect Yard was somehow always watching his perfect yard, and he didn't want anyone walking on his perfect yard. So it came to be, after some complaints, that if the ball went even three feet into his perfect yard, someone had to be brave enough to make the trek up his driveway, across his front walk, onto his porch, and ring the doorbell to ask for the ball back. And then Mr. Perfect Yard would give us all a disapproving look before reluctantly walking on his own perfect yard to retrieve the ball for us. (His reluctance was only matched by ours; nobody wanted to ring this guy's doorbell. Oh wait. Never ring the doorbell. Always knock. Doorbells are obnoxious, although he still had one.)
So I grew up knowing two things about this guy - he loved his lawn and he went to church. From this, I figured I could easily decipher which houses the Christians lived in by how the lawns looked. And if I ever got a chance to see someone interact with his yard, I'd know for sure whether he was a Christian or not.
When I got older and got a paper route, I used to be very careful about walking through yards until I knew the homeowners. I didn't want to take a chance on offending someone's God, even though I didn't know much else about Him.
It's silly, right? I mean, to think that the way someone cares for his yard is some reflection of his devotion to Jesus. But that's what I thought. For years, that's what I thought. Among so many other things.
It is silly. But I laugh a little because I realize that now, as a part of the church, I'm on the other side of the story.
Now, people are looking at me to see what is most true about my life. And I wonder what they're discovering. I hate to say it, but it's probably not, "she loves Jesus." That's true about me, but I fear that it's not what my life declares is most true about me. What's most true about me is maybe...well, you probably know what you see in me.
But let's flip the question: what's most true about you? What is your life declaring is most true about you? Is it that you love Jesus? Because if not...
If "she loves Jesus" is not what others see as most true about me, then they're drawing connections between what is most true about me and who God is. They're trying to figure out this church thing, this Christian thing, this Jesus thing by what appears to be most true of the people who claim to love Him. And maybe they're thinking...these people love their lawns. Silly, right?
It's a good reminder for all of us to live what is most true about us. And what is most true about us is partially that we love Jesus, yes. That's what we have control over, anyway, and so we absolutely must live like we love Jesus. We have to make that most true about the decisions we get to make in our lives.
But there is one thing more true about us even than that, and we have to live that, too. What is it?