Chameleon Christians :: By Bud Hancock

Christian Witness 

Chameleons are amazing creatures.  They are described by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “old world lizards with prehensile tails, independently movable eyeballs, and unusual ability to change the color of the skin.”  These characteristics form a defense system whereby the creatures can avoid detection and attack from predators, especially the ability to change colors and blend in with their surroundings, almost like a cloaking device.  These capabilities serve the creatures well.

However, there is another interesting definition of the word ‘chameleon’ by Merriam-Webster: (a) “a person who often changes his or her beliefs or behavior in order to please others or to succeed,” and (b) “one that is subject to quick or frequent change, especially in appearance.”  Based on the character of a person willing to sacrifice personal integrity to achieve certain ends, these capabilities would also serve him or her well, unless that person claims to be a Christian.

I have personally witnessed people who claim to be Christian, but who seem to very easily blend in with those who definitely are not.  This ‘blending in’ is sometimes done through the wearing of attire that matches that of worldly people or even the use of crude and vulgar language, making it nearly impossible to determine who is, and who is not, a Christian.

If one wants to remain an ‘anonymous Christian’ who is not easily recognized as one while in the company of non-Christians, one simply adopts the ‘chameleon characteristic’ (goes into ‘chameleon mode’) and changes whatever is needed to blend in, while avoiding any possible confrontation based on Christian beliefs.  Hence, if avoidance of confrontation associated with being a Christian is the desired result, then the chameleon mode serves such a person well.

The real problem though, is that this chameleon-like action offers the appearance of fear based on non-Christians discovering the true nature of a believer in Jesus Christ.  This being the case, a person’s Christian witness is totally annulled, since being a Christian witness is to be done as an act of love absent any fear.

The apostle John, writing in his first epistle said, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (I John 4:18).

Your Christian Witness 
To be a good Christian witness, one cannot allow fear to dictate how, or to whom, one witnesses.  Being able to speak about the God of Love to a person who has never known real love requires real faith.  Fear, being the opposite of faith, will negate the witness every time.  The visible fear of a Christian can be sensed by those who are hardened to the Word.  The lack of boldness and the presence of fear will counteract the spirit of faith and love needed to reach such people.

If a chameleon had any means of protection other than those described at the beginning of this article, he would not need the color-changing ability to feel safe.  If it was the most surefire means of protection known to man, he would simply roam around doing chameleon things without any fear whatsoever.

Having personally chosen each of his disciples, Jesus certainly knew them in all their human weaknesses.  He had taught them everything they would need to know to successfully spread the gospel to the world.  I am sure they had witnessed all the miraculous deeds He had done, the healings and deliverance from demonic possession, as well as having been able to avoid capture and death on the occasions when mobs of angry Jews tried to arrest Him.  Watching the Son of God in the flesh do these things, and then being expected to step into that same role after Jesus was gone back to heaven, was likely a scary thought to them and made them feel very much alone and isolated.

Fearless Christian Witness
But Jesus, in the wisdom of God, was preparing them to take His message to a lost and dying world.  Allowing fear to stop that message was not in God’s plan.  They would need the reassurance that, with the flesh-and-bone Jesus no longer in their midst, they could do what He commanded.  They would need to know that He was still with them no matter where they went, no matter the dangers they would face.  On the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on each of them, the power they would need to succeed in Jesus’ physical absence was provided, just as Jesus had promised.

Shortly before His ascension, Jesus sent His original disciples out into the world with these words: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18b-20). 

Jesus presence with them was manifest by and through the indwelling of The Holy Spirit.

Armed with these words, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and knowing that Jesus was now an immortal man who could no longer be harmed or killed, must have been the comfort they needed; because they were able to turn the world upside down for their Lord and throw some serious monkey wrenches into Satan’s works.  The glorious thing is that they did not need to be ‘chameleon Christians,’ hiding from those who also had tried to destroy Jesus many times.  Their lives were infused with Godly love and faith that absolutely emboldened them to cast out all fear and function in Godly faith, allowing them to witness even to those who had been instrumental in the crucifixion of Jesus!

In these extremely dangerous and troubled times in which we live, will we also rely only on the Lord for our personal security, forsaking the temptation to ‘blend in’?  Will we rely on the Love of God and the faith of Jesus and stand boldly for the Word of God, regardless of our personal concerns; or will we still rely on the nature and tools of the chameleon to feel safe in the midst of danger?

Armed with the faith of Jesus and the words of Jesus, “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” what would Jesus expect us to do?