As a young child I spent many hours at my grandparents. They had a couple of small magnets that had dogs glued on top of them. I spent hours playing with those magnets. When the dog’s heads were face to face, they repelled each other. It was only when head to tail that they attracted each other. Most children have enjoyed playing with magnets at one time or another. As adults, there are many times when we are thankful for a magnetized screwdriver. As I grew up I learned how magnets work. When the same poles of two magnets are placed next to each other they repel each other, pushing themselves away. It is only when the north pole of one magnet is next to the south pole of another magnet that they attract each other. It is interesting that the same pair of magnets can either attract or repel. Electromagnets also use this magnetic principle. When the current is on they act as a magnet. When it is off they have no effect at all.
As we live our Christian lives, I wonder how much we act like magnets. We have the capability of attracting, having no effect upon, or repelling others. We are to live our lives such that others, seeing how we live, are attracted. They should want to know what makes us different. They should see something in our lives that intrigues them so that they want to know more.
Unfortunately this is not often the case. The father of Indian independence, Mahatma Gandhi, is reported to have thought very highly of the Sermon on the Mount. Yet he never became a Christian. He said that the reason he didn’t become a Christian was because of Christians. In other words, what he saw in the lives of the Christians around him repelled him. Many of the young blacks I met during the late 1960s and early 1970s rejected Christianity because they viewed it as the main thing that held them back for three hundred years. Their view of Christianity and the church repelled them instead of attracting them.
In identifying with Christ, our lives are to be transformed. The transformed lives of the early Christians became a strong attraction to men and women living in the Roman and Greek world of the 1st and second centuries AD. The early Christians demonstrated love to all people, no matter their race or economic status, whether slave or free. Many of them had their lives totally changed following their conversion to Christ. People were attracted to them. Their transformation allowed them to go out and change the world – even in a world where they were outlawed and persecuted.
Whether we like it or not, as Christians we are like magnets. We can either attract people to Christ or repulse them. To a large extent it depends on how others see us living our lives. Like the early Christians, we also are to live transformed lives. Our relationship with God should make us different from those around us. Through us, people should be drawn to the God we serve. Will we who live in the 21st century have the same effect on the world that the church did during the first two centuries of the Christian era? To a large extent the answer will be found in our answer to the following question: As I live my life before God and the people around me, do I attract them to him, do they have no idea I am even a Christian, or do I repulse them?