Go ask some people on the street what their impression of Christians is. Afraid what you might hear? That’s a reasonable fear. We are known for being “against stuff.” We are known not for our deeds but for our words—and our words are often arrogant, closed-minded, and contemptuous of anyone who thinks differently than we do. We are known for generosity only to our own and on our own terms. In shorthand, people don’t like us because we speak in words (not deeds), are bigoted, and don’t do any good.

Harsh words. But sadly, this is not far off the mark in many cases. In fact there is nothing in the visible behaviors of most Christians that would change this opinion—held by a typical personal in our society.

Let’s turn it around. What are some things that would get us a good reputation? Demonstrating what Jesus did. Manifesting good deeds, love, care, sacrifice, and concern. Serving people across all cultures and belief systems. If we’re not doing that—showing our faith in action, living as Jesus lived, and demonstrating a radically different kind of love and service—then our words are nothing more than a bunch of hot air. Or a clanging gong or clashing cymbal… choose your metaphor.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1