Younger me could tell you all about the best roads for bike riding, the deepest water holes for fishing, and the perfect crevices and crannies for hiding from irate neighbors. The one-horse town of Bandana, Kentucky, had it all. The friendly folks of Bandana knew it all, too. As I burned rubber on the block and waged stick-gun wars with neighborhood kids, people would say to me, “You’re a Bramlett, ain’t ya boy? Yeah—Greg and Connie’s son!” They knew who I was simply because of my last name.
Growing up in a close-knit town, I learned that my name mattered, and how I honored (or dishonored) that name mattered even more. I had to keep an eye on myself because everyone else had their eye on me. Unfortunately, I was frequently first in line for shenanigans and the trail of mischief often led to “that kid on Allen Street.” But, I always knew that I had a name to uphold. What I did mattered because of the family I belonged to.
Likewise, all who claim the name Christian have an obligation to honor the exalted and hallowed name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The choices you make and the words you speak are immensely consequential if you belong to the family of God. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” said Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20. We are His official representatives in a foreign world that is not our home (John 15:19; 1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, we must watch ourselves closely because the world is watching us (cf. 1 Thess. 4:12).
The world is continuously forming a judgment about Christ and the gospel based on whatever they see in you. They aren’t reading the Bible to discover who Jesus is; they are reading you. They aren’t studying theology to understand Christianity; they are studying you. As the evangelist Billy Graham once preached, “We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”
You may preach the gospel a thousand times to those around you—and you should. But your life-witness preaches a thousand times louder. Your life is a visible sermon about the One whose name you claim to represent. Lamentably, we often preach the wrong message. It’s no surprise, then, that we often hear reproof like Mahatma Gandhi’s famous remark, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
That is why Jesus commanded, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Shine the light and honor the Father’s glorious name by your character, conduct, and conversation. And when you do, the Lord will honor you: “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26b).
 Obviously, as an Indian lawyer and anti-colonialist politician, Gandhi was no expert on Christianity. Nevertheless, his rebuke is unfortunately true.
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).