Your Religious Résumé

I’m sitting in a drafty cafeteria at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Today is my annual check-up. It has been four years since I had surgery in this building to remove my cancerous thyroid. I remember the first time Christine and I visited this place. We were all keen to see a doctor named Grubbs. We had Googled her, read articles by her, even prayed for her. And we were impressed. She studied at Duke, did residencies at Duke and MD Anderson, and published loads of peer-reviewed research.  

Then we got a surprise. Dr. Grubbs had something come up. Instead of her, I would be the patient of Dr. Perrier. So what did we do with our time in the waiting room? We internet-stalked Dr. Perrier, of course. And we were equally impressed. Chief resident at the Mayo Clinic, fellowship at the American College of Surgeons, and several awards.  

That’s when it hit us: If you come to MD Anderson, you get a good doctor. Always. There aren’t any hacks here.  

Sitting here waiting for my fourth check-up, I’m thinking about how that idea intersects with church. As a general rule, the more important the project, the better credentials we demand. Christine and I wouldn’t have been nearly so curious about our supplier’s résumé if she were cutting into our drain pipes instead of cutting into my neck. For a plumber, we might check Angie’s List. For a cancer surgeon, we flew to Houston.  

What does that have to do with faith? Simply this: the claim of the gospel is the biggest, most important, most intimate project anyone will ever undertake. As ambassadors of the Kingdom  of Heaven, what we offer is eternal life, rescue for souls, forgiveness, freedom, and purpose. We ask people to trust that our form of treatment is the best out there. We invite people to stake their lives on the belief that Jesus is real and the Bible is true. We ask them to give their hearts away.  

So it would be foolish to think that people would trust us without checking us out. Before they come to our church or visit our small group or read our Bible, people want to see some credentials. They want to know that our message works. They want to see if we are living the joyful, forgiven, purposeful, servant-hearted life that we claim will rescue theirs. They want to see lives full of faith, hope and love. They want to see a résumé that shows sacrifice and generosity and humility.  

The Apostle Peter instructed us, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Do our lives convince people that our treatment is the best? Do we practice or just preach? Would friends fly form another city to visit our church?  

Your life is your religious curriculum vitae. Is it earning you any patients?