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Christians -- Your Example Is Not Enough to Convert Someone
For a long time, I've wanted to see the perfect Christian. I occasionally struggle with doubt on Christianity, and I've sometimes thought that if I found one person who lived the perfect Christian life, my doubts would be squelched.
Part of this belief comes from something I've often heard, which is that we need to be good Christian examples so that other people come to Christ. People who become perfect after meeting Christ, it is implied, are the best evidence that God exists.
Don't get me wrong. I think that we do need to be Christian examples in striving to love others. But sometimes it seems like we try to be good Christian examples in order to prove God's existence, like God wouldn't be a clear presence in the world if we weren't ideal Christians. In other words, there's seems to be an underriding philosophy that God's existence depends on our behaviour.
Christian aren't perfect in and of themselves; if they were, they wouldn't be Christians who needed the sacrifice of Christ for their sins. Because no Christian always acts perfectly, the claim that Christians are always good examples will fall flat upon closer examination.
I think that the God whose existence is dependant solely on human behaviour is a God who is too small. Romans 1:18-20 states that, since the beginning of the world, God and his qualities can be clearly seen from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. And the beginning of John 1 uses the concept of the Word, or Logos, to describe Christ as the "light of men." Logos here was referring to the agent or principle that actively held the world together.
What that means is that God's existence has validation that is way beyond you and me. The validation is in this computer screen, in the carpet under you, in the eyes that are reading this right now, and everything else, down to the smallest molecule, the most fundamental physical laws, the most foundational logical premises.
If you make yourself the validation for God's existence, I think that's dangerous. It's like saying that if you aren't a perfect person, then God's existence can't be known by people looking at you -- and, by extension, can't be known by yourself, as well. Such a God depends on human action too much for his existence; I would have a hard time maintaining my faith if I believed in such a God.
Not saying we shouldn't represent God in the world -- but God exists and is clearly present in the world whether we adequately represent Him or not.
That's why Christianity is about Christ, first and foremost. I act the way I act because I believe in God. Although my belief in God should lead me to represent Him in my relationships with other people, it's important for me not to mistake my representation of God for God Himself.