God Put Us in a Fishbowl
A friend sent me an interesting letter. She wrote about the time she met our family when our children were still small. And then she wrote, “I know you, Brother K.P., Daniel and Sarah have made a sacrifice living in a ‘fishbowl,’ as it were.” What she meant was that because of my husband’s ministry, people watch our lives very closely—much of the time. I thought: That’s true, and now Erika and Danny, our daughter- and son-in-law, have also joined us in the fishbowl!
Being on display came with the call of God on our lives—and it is the same with your life as well. God wants to make each of His servants an example of a Christian whom others can follow, even though He knows we are not perfect. In this letter, we will consider how mindful we must be of our conduct and calling so we will bring honor to Jesus and not discredit His Church.
When the Lord Jesus called His 12 disciples, He simply invited them to follow Him. He didn't reason, threaten or plead with them to become His disciples; nor did He promise them position, power and money. He didn't give a demonstration of His divine powers or tell them that He was the Son of God and the promised Messiah of Israel.
Jesus simply walked by Peter and Andrew’s fishing boat and said: “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). In a similar way, He called the others to become His followers.
Jesus allowed them to be with Him and observe Him closely. The disciples were with Him 24 hours a day for more than three years. They watched every aspect of His private life and His public ministry.
They saw the attitude He woke up with in the morning, they listened to what He said about others in private, and they watched His reaction when the food didn't taste good, when the sleeping arrangements were terrible and when He was tired and exhausted.
The disciples learned what made Him happy, serious or sad. They watched how He handled disappointments, misunderstandings, opposition, persecution—as well as praise, fame and the contributions people gave to His ministry.
Each time they heard Jesus teach God’s Word, they could check to see if He followed His own teaching. And when He cast out demons, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead, they noticed if He gave God the glory or took it for Himself.
Living and traveling with Jesus, the disciples observed how much of a prayer life He had and whether or not His personal holiness and devotion to God’s Word were real.
What was their conclusion? As eyewitnesses of Jesus’ private and public life, they came to the conclusion that Peter expressed: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69). The apostles never changed their confession, not even when they faced opposition, persecution or martyrdom.
What did people say about the disciples and the believers of the first-century Church? After watching their private and public lives closely, they called them Christians (see Acts 11:26). They did so because these believers lived and behaved just like Christ.
What do people say about us? Most of us would get a pretty good report card if someone would ask the people in our community and local church about our Christian testimony. After all, we follow the rules of our society, pay our taxes and don’t make any trouble. And at church we teach Sunday school, sing in the choir, give our tithe and help the poor.
However, I imagine our report card would get a few deductions if someone asked our friends and neighbors about our Christian character. They know us a whole lot closer and see us daily.
But we would receive our most accurate report card if someone asked our parents, brothers and sisters, husband, children, daughter-in-law or son-in-law regarding our Christian walk. They know who we really are behind closed doors. They could testify to our uncontrolled anger, the sharp words we use to criticize others, how defensive we get when we are corrected, our lack of submission, the unforgiveness we harbor when our feelings get hurt, how often we neglect to pray and read God’s Word and the many times we fail to practice what we tell others to do.
What would happen if 12 new believers moved in with us and copied everything we practiced? If they didn't know the Word of God and we were the only believers they could observe and learn from, what kind of Christians would they turn out to be? They would become exactly what we are!
Do you think the Lord Jesus would be honored by the conduct of these disciples if they lived in public what we practiced at home? And would they be a blessing or a headache for the church? If, like Jesus’ disciples, they were to become the future leaders of the church, the church would be a reflection of them and those who had trained them.
It is our responsibility to produce authentic followers of Christ. We may feel very insignificant in the work of God. However, we must remind ourselves daily that the future of the Church depends on us providing the correct example. Paul wrote to Timothy, and to us, how we should go about it: “In speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).
What if we mess up and make mistakes? We will not be perfect, and those who watch us will surely point out our failures. This is what we must do when we fail: We must humble ourselves, ask forgiveness from God and those we hurt, accept correction and continue to walk in God’s grace. God put us in a “fishbowl” so those who watch us can learn this crucial lesson by our example as well.
My dear sister, let us be careful how we represent the Lord Jesus to our generation.
May the Lord bless you and keep you close to Himself.
Your sister in Christ,
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