Have you ever met someone, then gotten to know them better only to find yourself surprised to learn that they were a Christian? And I don’t mean in a good way!

Jesus had a lot to say about the fruit people bear and about how we show our love for Jesus. There’s a great percentage of those, especially in the younger generation, who identify as Christians only because their parents went to church. But just as there are many who are Christian by inheritance, not by choice, there are many who claim and believe they are Christ-followers to their core—yet their behavior is anything but.

If Christ is our vine and we are his branches, we will produce fruit in accordance with that. If we want to display the love and power of God accurately, we have to not just have faith, but live it out. This will produce in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All these traits should shine out of us at any given moment, making not us, but Christ in us, attractive to people.

When I meet people, I don’t always lead with, “Hi, I’m Renee, and by the way I’m a Christian!” That’s bound to come up eventually—I’m not shy about my faith!—but my prayer is always that when the subject arises organically, my behavior will in no way have been contradictory to my profession.

When we live out our faith, not just preach it, it offers another avenue for Jesus to reach people and for people to find Truth. The discipline, boldness, and self-sacrifice involved in walking out the faith we hold is not a simple task—indeed, it requires so much of us we may sometimes feel overwhelmed by it! But if we don’t learn to live this way, then our faith becomes a sound bite, a blip in a life otherwise lived for self. We become just another one of “those Christians”—a reason for those who do not yet follow Christ to turn their attention further away from him.

If anyone is surprised I’m a Christian, I want it to be because they’ve never met Jesus before the way I’m preaching him. And then, God willing, I’ll be able to live by example enough that I can lead them into his open arms.