This question floated around in Christian circles a decade or two ago: “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I suspect this question surfaced about the same time that studies reported the divorce rate among Christians was just as high as among non-believers. It seems the behavior of many Christians isn’t all that different from the rest of society.

Paul dealt with this same issue in the early Church. The Message translation makes it crystal clear what behavior Paul was seeing and what he thought about it in Ephesians 5:3-7,11, 17-19

  • Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed.
  • Although some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
  • You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
  • Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.
  • Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness.
  • Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs!

Instead, Paul tells Christians in Ephesians 5:15-17

  • So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
  • Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
  • Live so there is ample evidence to demonstrate you’re a Christian!

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do people know you are a Christian because of how you behave during easy times? Why or why not? Difficult times? Why or why not?
  2. How can you live more deliberately and carefully, reflecting who Jesus is?