The double-wide in which I grew up had a lot of issues. I remember knowing where to place cooking pots for when the roof leaked during downpours. If the Alabama sky got that angry shade of black and green, we took off for a storm pit down the road to wait things out. On many cold winter mornings, our main source of heat was a wood-burning stove between the dining table and living room.
Even knowing all of that, the trailer seemed secure to me as a kid. My parents knew better. So, they saved up enough money to build a house about 100 feet behind the trailer. It was more secure, able to withstand storms better.
Wood for that stove came mostly from my grandparents’ land. My brothers and I would ride with dad into the woods behind their house until it opened up among some fields. He would tell us to get out of the truck and find some place to play, just not near the trees he was about to take down with the chainsaw and then cut up.
One day my brothers and I were in one of those fields when we heard dad calling for us to come back to the truck. He was hopping in some strange way, and I could tell from his voice something was wrong. We hurried back and soon were being tossed around in the cab as dad drove over and through depressions in the road at a faster pace than he typically did. Then I looked down.
There was a clean cut through dad’s boot. Every time he mashed down to shift gears, blood oozed up through it. I’ll never forget that image, or the lesson I got from it.
My dad has worked with big, dangerous machinery his entire life. He knows to be careful. Yet, even he had a moment where he forgot what he was dealing with. For a second, his concentration had faltered and it nearly cost him a foot.
The same kind of spiritual devastation can happen when we forget the Savior in whose image many see us. It’s why living in a manner worthy of Christ takes even more importance in a culture looking to dismiss the Gospel. After all, the easiest way to dismiss Christ is to dismiss Christians.
That’s the message Paul gave young churches in Scripture. To the one in Colossae he urged to live a life that honors and pleases the Lord, so that “your lives will produce every kind of good fruit” (NLT). The church in Ephesus was admonished to “lead a life worthy of your calling.”
So what does that look like, to lead a life that honors and pleases the Lord?
It’s a life where we know the standard we look up to, Christ, is one we’ll never reach. We become humble in knowing that. That knowledge also helps us grasp how Jesus came to connect us with God. Those two things – our sin and Christ covering it with his death and resurrection – give us a look at the world that those rejecting the Gospel don’t see. Where both sides may see sin, evil, and death, the Christian sees a chance at redemption and life. And a lot of times, that chance at redemption appears in a Christian’s mirror.
It’s hard to imagine becoming accustomed to forgiveness, but it happens. And when we get accustomed to forgiveness, we take it for granted. Then, we become a picture of something that doesn’t look so much like the Gospel.
That’s a dangerous place in which to be. The Gospel is the most awe-inspiring power this world has ever known. It has led people to feed and clothe others. It’s brought many to forgive their enemies. It’s caused nations to shudder and render its message too dangerous to be heard.
Think of where you’re at right now. Who are the people you talk to every day? What do they know about how your relationship with Christ directs your actions? Don’t underestimate your ability to change someone’s life simply by how you live yours. Look for opportunities to share why that’s so, and never dismiss the power you hold in that moment.
Because if you do, it costs someone much more than a foot.