I used to say, "When people look at my life, I hope they see Jesus in me." What I was implying was that I hoped that people would see me acting like Jesus - living a righteous life and modeling good Christian virtues and integrity. And if I didn't demonstrate all that stuff, my "testimony" and "witness" would be ruined.
Boy, was I wrong!
Now, when I say, "I hope people see Jesus in me", it means something totally different! What I really hope people see in me is how much I NEED Jesus. Steve Brown said, "People will be drawn to Christ because of how messed up you are, how real you are, and how much Jesus loves you." That's such good news for a broken sinner like me who doesn't walk the walk very well at all!
If my inconsistency as a Christ-follower can invalidate the Gospel for an unbelieving world then I've become bigger than the Gospel. If my failure to live like Jesus did can ruin my witness, then I'm a witness to the wrong thing! The Gospel is the Good News that Jesus loves, forgives and unconditionally accepts people like me, who don't have nearly enough integrity. I am a witness to THAT Gospel.
I speak at Recovery Ministries a lot and I caution people there: If your story is simply, "I used to be an addict or a drunk and now I'm sober", then you got sold a bill of goods. The Gospel says, "God loves people who get sober, and relapse, and get sober, and then relapse again!"
I do want people to see Jesus in me. I want them to see how messed up I really am, and how much Jesus loves frauds and hypocrites like me! THAT'S the Gospel! It isn't a message of "I used to be like that and now I'm like this." Oprah can help you to better behavior! The Gospel is for train wrecks, who are flaky and not nearly as committed as they should be to God.
And God is changing me. But that's not the story, really. It's that He loves me despite the fact that I'm not changing quickly enough, or consistently enough. It isn't really about me anyway! I'll say it again: People will be drawn to Christ because of how messed up you are, how real you are, and how much Jesus loves you.