CHRISTIAN CODE OF CONDUCT
The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
I once read a bumper sticker that really started me thinking, this bumper sticker asked a simple question: “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Here’s a story that I came across that ties in perfectly with the bumper sticker I just told you about.
very stressed-out woman was tailgating a man driving down a busy street.
Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right
thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red
light by accelerating through the intersection.
tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she
missed her chance to get through the intersection with him.
As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and
looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.
The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.
He took her to the police station where she was searched,
fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell.
a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door.
She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer
was waiting with her personal effects.
said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see; I pulled up behind
your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of
you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'What
Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper
sticker and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally,
I assumed you had stolen the car."
I can’t confirm if this story is true, it just goes to show that someone
else has thought about the same issue that’s been bothering me for several
years now. I have witnessed a
large increase in people professing to be Christians and at the very
same time these same people display few or none of the characteristics of a
Christian. How many people have
you encountered on the highways with Christian symbols and bumper stickers
on their cars that drive like angry devils?
How ironic it is to have a Christian bumper sticker, or symbol on
your car and drive like you have no regard at all for the life of your
fellow human beings! What this
amounts to is false advertising in the eyes of God.
not saying that these symbols and bumper stickers are wrong; I’m saying
that they’re hypocritical if you display them then act the opposite of
what you’re advertising about yourself.
We find out how Jesus Christ feels about this type of hypocrite in
Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are
like white washed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful on the outside, but
within are filled with dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.”
Be assured that Jesus Christ still feels the same way about people
who profess to be Christians, and display all the signs of being Christians,
but don’t bother to follow His precepts and teachings.
we become Christians, we take the yoke of Christianity upon ourselves.
This is a sacred responsibility, but one that we must fully embrace
and put into practice if we are to be counted as true Christians.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and you shall find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30. We read in the Gospel about ten lepers that
were cleansed by Jesus and of the ten only one of them returned to thank
Jesus for curing him.
we live in a “me first” world, and from the example of the ten lepers
above, not much has changed since the time Jesus Christ walked on the earth.
Imagine being instantly cured from a disease as horrible as leprosy
and being so self-absorbed that it never occurs to you to thank the one that
made the miracle possible. It
required almost no effort for the Samaritan to offer thanks to Jesus for
being cured, so you see, His yoke is indeed light and easy to bear.
We must give thanks to the Lord for all of our blessings; a thankful
heart is one of the characteristics of a true Christian.
We should also show gratitude to others when they show us kindness
Every Sunday in the Divine Liturgy we sing the Beatitudes, in these you will find the yoke of Christianity and what Jesus Christ expects of us as Christians. It’s the Christian code of conduct. These beautiful words were so important to St. John Chrysostom and the early Church that they incorporated them into the Divine Liturgy, so that the faithful would be reminded every Sunday how to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. The Sermon on the Mount that follows the Beatitudes in Matthew Chapter 5 shows us clearly how to apply this Christian code of conduct in our everyday lives.
Could someone be “meek, or merciful, or pure in heart, or a
peacemaker, and make rude and obscene gestures, utter curses, and endanger
their own lives and the lives of others on the road and not be in violation
of the Christian code of conduct? The answer is “no”.
Now we must also turn our attention to our own reaction as well.
Do we respond in kind? Or
do we live by the Christian code of conduct and stay faithful to the
Beatitudes? That’s a choice
that we must all make, fortunately, Eastern Orthodox Christians are well
practiced in this Christian code of conduct.
You can’t make someone follow the Christian faith and teachings;
they must voluntarily follow them on their own. Keep in mind, you will only be held responsible for your
reaction, so reactions are just as important as actions.
I vividly remember a conversation I had several years ago with a
loudly, self-professed Christian woman who had two prominent bumper stickers
displayed proudly on her car. One
of them read, “Abortion, stops a beating heart!”
The other one read, “Always choose life!” This woman was complaining to me about new rules at the
prison concerning witnesses to executions.
Knowing her avid pro-life stance I
made a totally wrong assumption and asked, “Are they not allowing peaceful
protesters at executions anymore?” She
responded indignantly, “I don’t want to protest the execution, I want to
be a witness to it. This man
deserves to die and I want to watch him die!”
Truly, actions speak louder than bumper stickers!
Remember, bumper stickers and Christian emblems are not
reliable methods for identifying Christians.
The surest way to spot a true Christian is through their actions.
Heavenly Father, Who mercifully healed the ten lepers, heal us today of all
conditions that separate us from You. Also,
let us be like the one cleansed leper that returned to offer thanks to You.
Send us the Holy Spirit to remind us of Your teachings when we are
tempted to resort to anger. Teach
us to be merciful, peaceful, and pure in heart so that we may fulfill Your
Write the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount on the walls of our
hearts that we may be easily identified as true Christians through our
These things we ask in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Spirit.
This sermon was delivered by Father Michael on Sunday, December 5, 2004
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