It concerns me that we do not realize how much we represent Jesus Christ in this world. It is like we think it comes with an "on" and "off" switch so that when we no longer feel like following Jesus' example we can just step away from it. You know, like those times when you lose your temper and start yelling at the offending person because it makes you feel good. Or when you are in your car and buddy decides to cut in front of you without his turning indicator so you lean on your horn to feel better. Or when someone says some mean and nasty things about you that are not true and you tear into them with all your fury just to even things off. These are just a few of those moments when we throw that switch and step away from our representation of Jesus.
I don't mean to put any pressure on you because I am actually talking to me. I am reminding myself of every time I fail to remember who I represent in this place. I sometimes forget that I am no longer working on my reputation but am demonstrating the love that caused me to give up everything for Jesus. I think we need some pressure to remember that it is often what we do and how we react that makes it easier or more difficult for a person to encounter Jesus. In fact, I don't think we really understand just how important our role is in people coming to know him. Consider these words:
He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. (Matthew 10:40)
There are many people who encounter Jesus all on their own, by direct intervention. I was one of those people as Jesus met me in my bedroom and called me to him. Then there are still more people who come to Jesus through us, his representatives. There is something incredible that happens when an unsaved person accepts a Christian into their life, if that Christian understands who he is representing. Jesus says that if they receive us they receive him and if they receive him they receive the Father. That is pretty amazing as far as I am concerned, it also causes me to stop taking any of these relationships so lightly that I think I can do and say whatever I feel like. What damage am I doing when I fail to follow the lead of the Spirit in all my responses in the day? But don't stop here, there is more.
As Jesus brings home this realization of our great responsibility he also tells us that there is a reward for faithful service to the marginalized people of this world:
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)
It is not man helping man that is awarded but instead it is the fact that we do it representing Jesus. We do not do it out of our inconsistent and fickle love and compassion but instead we do it in the steady grace of our King. We have to stop throwing the switch and walking away from this representation. This is not a job we work at 8 hours a day. This is who we become, taking on his character, not working through our emotions but by the Holy Spirit who fills us with his consistent love and compassion. We realize that we cannot get angry at people when they offend us because "me" is no longer important. Jesus and that person is more important than the "me" or the "us" and how they perceive Jesus will be according to the words we speak and the actions we take.
So "me" take note of this. I have a very important responsibility here of representing Jesus Christ. No more denial of Jesus by my lack of love and patience. No more excuses about being tired and stressed. No more thoughts of having a right to defend myself. Self, submit to the Spirit now so that Jesus will see me as a workman approved by God, representing him to a people who don't even know how desperate they are to meet him. I need to have the character of Jesus so that people would want to know me and in knowing me will soon know Jesus and our Father. Don't take this lightly. Don't ever take this lightly and make up excuses. This is a very serious thing.