Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
        “Excuse me. I have been observing your behavior for a long time. Could you explain to me some things? Why do you treat your wife as you do? [Or, why do you treat your husband as you do?] Why are you always careful to show your children respect and love? Why are you so conscientious and trustworthy in your work? Why do you refuse to lie when it seems it would be in your best interest to lie? Why are you always so honest—you will not steal even when you could get away with it; you will not be unfaithful to your wife [or husband] even when no one would know it; you tell the truth even when the truth hurts you; you help people when you know he or she might be taking advantage of your generosity; you show respect to people who obviously have no respect for you.
        “I have tried and tried to figure it out, and I cannot. The way you live and the way most people live is in such contrast. Such behavior does not make you richer. I see catastrophe come to your family as it does to other families. Your behavior is not some sort of magical physical protection. So I often ask myself, ‘Why does he [she] live that way?’ It just does not make sense to me.”

We increasingly live in a society in which godly behavior does not make sense. There was a time when godly behavior seemed to be a way of life many of the industrious disadvantaged embraced. That time was followed by a period when the industrious disadvantaged prospered. As these people prospered, the church prospered. In fact, that period was followed by a time when the church was filled with the successful middle class. It is amazing to note what congregations could afford in 1975 that they could not afford in 1945! It is equally amazing to note how the lifestyle of the typical Christian family changed during that same time period in this society!

But, again, times have changed. The time when godliness was admired and rewarded has passed. We increasingly live in a period when godliness is looked upon as foolish, and when many Christians think the path to godliness lies in political control rather than godly behavior. Too often we allow society rather than God to define the meaning of key words—fun, pleasure, success, prosperity, ambition, commitment, love, etc.

Perhaps there are two things in our awareness we need to awaken. (1) The realization that someone else notes how we live. (2) The realization that our struggle is against something much bigger than the ‘here and now.’

Just in case someone asks about the way you live, please do not begin your response with, “I belong to the Church of Christ…” Begin with, “I belong to the God who gave me Jesus Christ.” Honor God and Jesus in your lifestyle.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 22 June 2006

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