In my church body we are careful to remember that we cannot see a person’s heart, that we cannot judge by the outside if person is a believer or not. And I believe we are right not to make such assumptions. But The Lord God does not indwell a person without making it evident that He is there. There is a major change that takes place within a person when The Father chooses him, Jesus saves him, and the Holy Spirit seals him. The fact is our lives are a testimony to our heart condition. While outsiders may not recognize who or why, they should still note a peculiarity in the believer.
Paul’s greeting to the people of Thessalonica in verses 1-3 reads,
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul immediately remarked the Thessalonian church for their work resulting from their faith in Christ. Faith is not merely a feeling or sureness of the heart. Like love, faith is not real until it is articulated by action or obedience. One can say, “I have faith that the bridge will hold” but if he refuses to walk across the bridge then his faith doesn’t matter. One can say he has faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, but if his life doesn’t testify it, his words mean nothing. There is a big difference in intending to do something and doing it.
God is awesome, He doesn’t choose a person and leave them “as is.” He doesn’t take someone from the world and make them a citizen of Heaven and not affect them. The power that saved us is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 8:9-12). The power given to us, is the same power that healed countless people, fed thousands out of one boy’s lunch, and taught the radical message called The Sermon on the Mount. The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is miraculous, revolutionary, and world-shattering. Verses 4- read,
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
The Holy Spirit leads us to be and do. He leads us to act, to trust and obey. He enables us to recognize His Spirit in others. As John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary pregnant with the unborn Savior, Jesus met his mother, The Spirit within us leaps for joy when we recognize one another. (Luke 1:41-44). Jesus described Him this way in John 14:15-24 in The Message,
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
18-20 “I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.
21 “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said, “Master, why is it that you are about to make yourself plain to us but not to the world?”
23-24 “Because a loveless world,” said Jesus, “is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.”
You can and do recognize The Holy Spirit in others because you already know Him since He lives in you. You know God, so you know it when you are able to distinguish Him, His voice, His Word, and His Love. Followers of Christ, begin looking and acting like Jesus. We grow and mature over time to become more and more like Jesus. He is glorified in His followers. We do not imitate, like a celebrity impersonator, we imitate Him as emulators, living up to the awesomeness and beauty of The Lord. Because we do that, those who have been following Christ for longer, those who can be called elders, leaders, and teachers should so emulate Jesus that we can say, “If you don’t know how to act like Jesus, watch me and see Him in me.” We are examples to everyone around us. Our lives are a testimony. Our lives will testify, “Jesus is Lord” or “I am lord.” Our actions speak louder than mere words ever can. Verses 6-10 read,
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
We used to look like the world. Now we look like Jesus. We used to worship ourselves and other false gods. Now we worship the One True Living Almighty God. Believers are just not like the world, we cannot be. God’s imprint is evident on us. The Father’s anointing is seen and heard. The Holy Spirit’s power changes us and makes us new. When people look at us, they see Jesus image, not ours.
If no one can look at your life and see you are different maybe you’re not. If the church can’t be certain that you are a follower of Christ, maybe you are merely a follower of Christianity.