‘‘Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’’ 1 Pet. 2:12
Additional reading: Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15
Yes, it is true that the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians in Antioch. But I doubt if this came on a platter of gold. The disciples must have suffered a measure of abuses from those who did not believe. However, their comportment generally even in the midst of persecution the church faced endeared them to their antagonists. In the place of hate and hardships, they showed love and perseverance, in the place of scorning and cursing, they gave blessings just as their Master did. Therefore, it was not out of place for the people of Antioch to call them Christians. The unquestionable conduct of the disciples made it very easy for the people to associate them with Christ. This is an example of how to live amongst unbelievers.
To this end, Apostle Peter wrote: ‘‘Having your conversation [anastrophe…behaviour] honest [kalos…of uncertain affinity; properly beautiful; but chiefly (figuratively) good (literally or morally), i.e. valuable or virtuous…better, fair, good, goodly, honest, meet, well, worthy] among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works [ergon… by implication an act:- deed, doing, labour, work], which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’’
Someone once said, ‘‘I almost became a Christian till I met one.’’ The person whom this statement is attributed to must have met one or two Christians with good report like those of the Antioch Church. His relationship with those Christians may have encouraged him to become a true Christian. I believe that while he was in the process of becoming a Christian, he met another one Christian whose lifestyle discouraged him from becoming one (a Christian). So he said, ‘‘I almost became a Christian till I met one.’’ This sad event reminds me of yet another statement: ‘‘Your life might be the only Bible someone may read.’’ If we understand these two statements clearly, we will very well understand Apostle Peters words to the Church: ‘‘Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’’
Your conversation—behaviour must be honest—worthy in the midst of those who do not believe. Even if they see everything wrong about you, your good deeds will speak for your and God will be glorified by it. ’’having your manner of life noble among the Gentiles, so that, whenever they speak against you as evildoers, when they observe the good works, they may glorify God in the day of visitation.’’ (English Majority Text Version—EMTV.) ‘‘People who don’t believe are living around you. They may say that you are doing wrong. So live such good lives that they may see the good you do, and they will give glory to God on the day he comes.’’ (ERV.)
I do not know if there is any reserve residential area for just Christians. Assuming there is one, Christians are bound to meet unbelievers at the workplace, commuter buses, aircrafts, recreation facilities, eateries, banking halls, hospitals, etc. Most times, unbelievers provide Christians with services needed for daily living. Christians just cannot live on an island. Our conduct, therefore, must be unquestionable because people who do not believe are living around us. And we must by our conduct show that we are different from the rest of the pack as the Christians in Antioch did.
There is something wrong when Christians begin to inflate invoices or contracts. There is something wrong when Christians begin to use measures that have been tampered with as those in the world do. There is something wrong when Christians begin to manifest the lifestyle of the world, thus, allowing the world to influence them instead of them influencing the world. If no one can see me through my deeds and mark me out from others, then, I need to be converted again. If I am a Christian, then, I must manifest the lifestyle of Christ, the man to whom I am committed to. To this end the Bible says: ‘‘In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.’’ (Matt. 5:16 GW.)
Permit me to ask these questions: what is the perception of Christians in your locality by unbelievers? Can your boss entrust you with an assignment over others because you are a Christian?
Meditation: How is my conduct before unbelievers? Can my lifestyle as a Christian bear witness for Christ before unbelievers or by my lifestyle I keep those who do not believe away from accepting Him as Lord and Saviour?
Prayer: I recognize that I have fallen short of all expectations. Nonetheless, I relay on You to renew my conduct through the Holy Spirit so that in every way and everywhere, my life may shine before all so that You will be glorified.
Question: (1) What do you understand by this statement? ‘‘Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’’ (2) In what areas of life do you fall to upon the good virtues of Jesus Christ?