Many people have given up on faith in Jesus Christ because of what they have seen in the lives of Christians. In these two passages from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass describes the importance of distinguishing between believing in Christ, and believing in those who say they follow Christ. The lives of Christians should be a positive witness to the Savior in whom they believe. But when people call themselves Christians and live wicked lives, we must focus not on their wickedness, but on Jesus. And we must live our lives in a way that would make others want to know more about our Savior. “Let your light shine before others,” Jesus said, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (See also yesterday’s meditation #110)
I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes, – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, – a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, – and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of the slaveholders find the strongest protection. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.
I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference– so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.
Titus 1:16 — They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
Matthew 5:14, 16 — (Jesus said), “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I Peter 2:12 — Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be a radiance of Thine.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Amen. –Mother Teresa