From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
A few weeks ago, some friends asked me what I thought about people who go to church and act worse than people without religion. I told them that just as going to McDonald's does not make me a big mac, going to church does not make someone a Christian. One of them asked me, "Who then is a Christian?"
That is a great question. One that all of us should ask. In a society where most people who go to church behave so much as the people in the world do, how are unbelievers going to recognize the Christians among them? If we drink and use foul language like unbelievers and visit the same places unbelievers do, what distinguishes the followers of Christ?
In the days of Paul, there were many pagan temples. These temples owned slaves, branded on their foreheads or their right hand with the name of the god who owned them. Paul told the church of Galatians, "I carry on me, the marks of Jesus," referring to the brands of pagan slaves. He said his marks would tell the world that he was a servant of Christ; he belonged to Christ.
Paul indeed had on his body the marks of all the beatings and stoning he had suffered for the cause of Christ. Those marks were visible. My friends, today's church no longer has to suffer for the gospel like the church in Paul's days did, but I believe that we should carry not on us but in us the marks of Christ.
These marks distinguish the faithful followers of Christ from those who just go to church. These marks testify to the world that we belong to our good Savior. These marks are the qualities of Christ that our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and families should see in us daily.
God put it on my heart to discuss eight of those marks with you. Starting next week, we will study a different mark of Christ each week for the next two months. For now, I leave you with one question. Do the people around you see the marks of Christ in you?