As I introduced myself at the start of my sermon yesterday, I asked if anyone in the congregation has been to the Philippines. Nobody raised his hand but somebody shouted, “Manny Pacquiao!” Others smiled as they recognized the name of our pambansang kamao (literally, national fists). It is surprising that many Costa Ricans are Pacquiao fans. In fact, for many of them, Manny’s exploits as a world boxing champion in seven weight classes are all that they know about the Philippines. If not for this, they would not know anything about my home country. Thank you, Manny, for bringing fame to the Philippines.
How easy it is for a person to be regarded as the representative of the nation or people group he belongs to. A stereotype, good or bad, of this nation or people group can be easily formed. Don Edwin, one of our first friends here in Costa Rica, shared that he believes:
- All Filipinos are hardworking, polite and fun-loving based on our 5-week stay in his home.
- All Koreans are rich because they always seem to have so much money.
- All Nicaraguans are … <pardon me, but I would not rather write what he said>.
Since stereotyping is so common even in this increasingly politically-correct generation, I encourage all of us to be careful and reflective on the way we live our lives. This is especially true for those of us who call ourselves Christians. Whether we like it or not, people will make their conclusions about our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church based on our behavior. And I am sure you know some disgusting stereotypes people have formed about us Christians. Colossians 4:5 (Amplified Bible) tells us:
Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity.
This week, let’s seize opportunities to bring more fame to the name of our Lord Jesus. May the Lord give you the wisdom on how to behave in your workplace, school, community and home so that people who know that you are a Christian will say good things about our Lord, believe in him, and receive him in their lives.
Live intentionally to make Jesus more famous.