I need to confess to a recently acquired addiction. I’ve become hooked on YouTube videos of the old “What’s My Line” TV show, which aired on CBS Sunday nights from 1950 to 1967. If you’re not familiar with the show, its format had a celebrity panel try to guess the profession of the contestant. The show also featured celebrity guests whom the blindfolded panel attempted to identify. Both used a “20 Questions” style of discovery. Contestants and celebrities would sign in on a chalkboard and the questioning would begin.
I’m attracted to the civility and urbanity of the participants and I love watching how the answer to one question can lead the panel in the wrong direction, sometimes hopelessly, sometimes temporarily. The latter was the case on one episode when the celebrity guest was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was a TV superstar in the 1950’s, witnessed by the loud applause he received when he signed in. The panel seemed to have little hope of identifying Sheen until he was asked if he had a TV show and if he was a religious figure. This got me to thinking. What if an entirely unknown Christ-follower had been a contestant. What questions would most quickly lead the panel to their identity? Here are a few I came up with:
Do you display: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? Do you love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)? Do you put a priority on serving others (John 13:12-17)?
According to the Apostle Paul and Jesus, these are all things characteristics that Christ-followers display. While it’s highly unlikely the “What’s My Line” panel ever would have thought of those questions, displaying those qualities is exactly how others can identify us as Christ-followers. Do we display the Fruit of the Spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23, even when we’re caught off guard? Do we display joy, peace and forbearance when we spot a nail in a suddenly sagging car tire? Do we portray gentleness and self-control when a family member, friend or co-worker engages in irritating behavior?
Do we have basin and towel at the ready so we can serve at a moment’s notice when the opportunity presents itself? If our faith had to be guessed on our behavior instead of answering questions, how long would it take any panel to identify us as Christ-followers?
If we have truly died to self, surrendering our whole self to Christ anew each day, these attributes appear effortlessly as does fruit from a tree. They are not a product of our efforts, but of the transforming that Christ is performing on our lives. And when that happens, nobody has to ask a single question of you to learn your identity as a Christ-follower. The “What’s My Line” panel might have even been able to figure it out blind-folded.