Paul is dragged in front of the high council, some who are probably his classmates or peers from when he was becoming a Pharisee. When the high priest, Ananias, commanded the guards to slap Paul in the face, he responds “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite!”
Paul responded so curtly because Ananias’s command to have him slap was illegal (assuming Paul was guilty before his trial and ordering his punishment). When someone leans over and tells him he’s insulting the most important man in the room, he’s surprised.
He quickly falls in line. “Oh, I didn’t realize he was the high priest.” Why would he? The man who is suppose to represent the law to everyone was breaking it. But this was this man’s job, purpose and title. And Paul, more familiar with his position than anyone could be, didn’t recognize that about him.
It got me thinking: what do people know about me once I’m in the room? If I spend the evening with someone new, they’ll probably leave knowing what type of music I like, whether I’m gluten free or not, and what sports team I root for. And hopefully, they’ll know I’m a Christian. Preferably not because of what I say, but maybe because of what I don’t say. The Bible mentions several times that it’s possible, and even suggested, that people find out what God you serve simply by your actions. What you talk about. How you talk about it. Do you initiate edifying conversations or participate in slander? What are all your stories about? Do you serve people you’re spending time with?
There’s a time and a place to take a bold stand and share with people. But for the most part, I think I can lean into being the laid back, relatable Christian a little too much. It’s kind of my worst nightmare to hear someone say ”oh, I didn’t know you were a Christian”. I mean, I don’t love labels, especially the ones that often get tied to Christianity. Ideally, I want people to slowly and organically find this out about me and then be able to tie all my philanthropic behavior to it and immediately tap me on the shoulder and ask me if they can learn more about the God of the Bible. Buuuuuut, realistically, I have road rage, lose my patience with my toddler in the store, get grumpy when I have to wait in line and give in to gossip around friends. And obviously, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about representing God. Sometimes that can mean being a total hot mess, yet being quick to share about the grace God has been extending to you lately. My husband became interested in Christianity because of the joy his English teacher had despite mourning the sudden death of her brother. Even in grief, she was representing something he wanted to be a part of. Something that was recognizable without being said.
Take a minute and ask yourself, what do people recognize about me?