Have you ever visited a new church or attended a friend’s birthday party or gone to a meet-and-greet business gathering and felt invisible? Yes, me, too. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
I was riding shotgun in our car today when we drove around our local university campus. Looking out of the car’s window, I noticed a woman wearing a burka. I assumed that she is a Muslim. About thirty minutes later we drove by a Catholic church that has hosted, possibly for centuries, a nunnery. I was saddened to see a few ladies that I was quite confident were nuns, but they weren’t wearing their habits.
With a sizable Catholic population here, I grew up seeing nuns everywhere. Back then, nuns nearly always wore habits when in public. Their garb stirred my respect for them. It was a testimony to the world around them that they were Christians that had dedicated their lives to serve Jesus.
By the time my wife and I got home, I knew I needed to write about being invisible in a lost world. I respect Indian Sikh’s wearing their dastar turbans, Muslim women wearing their burkas, Muslim men wearing their thawbs, and Hasidic Jewish men with their payots. The people of these religions easily recognize each other as do the rest of us, but when it comes to Christians, what do we have?
There are several denominations which are easily recognizable. Holiness, Pentecostal, traditional Mennonite, and a few other denominations demonstrate their faith outwardly. Some Christians wear a cross necklace but so does Ozzy Osbourne. Sometimes to me, as a Christian, I feel like the Invisible Man.
Outward accoutrements do have value, but just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He didn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem for the jewelry that I’ll give you.” No, we read in Acts 1:4-5 (NIV), “…Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit within us identifies us as Christians. This testimony is authentic and Scriptural. 1 Corinthians 4:20 (KJV) states, “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” And, in Acts 1:8 (NIV) Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Still today, we will get a witness within us when we meet a fellow Christian that has made room in their life for God. We may not be able to find them with our eyes, but the Holy Spirit orchestrates divine appointments or divine encounters all the time; my wife and I can attest to this. I rejoice in these, but I still wonder if we are missing something. Devoted Catholics celebrate Ash Wednesday by wearing ash on their foreheads which is a bold, outward testimony of their faith in Jesus, still that’s one day each year.
Usually, I write these devotionals in a logical progression to culminate with a truth from God’s word. I could just put a bow on this one with John 13:34-35, where Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” But, that really doesn’t address my central point.
For all the people I saw today, the only person I remember is the woman in the burka. Everyone else was invisible to me.
It seems that I brought you all the way here just to leave you with a question. Should we communicate an observable separation between us and the world, so others, while looking out of their car windows, will know that we are Christians and therefore in the world but not of the world, or should we remain invisible?