Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Meme Challenge, Day Two: Being a Representative of Christ

(For more on the Meme challenge, see: "Tag, I'm 'It'")

Day 2
On representing Jesus

I sometimes get a little scared when people ask me, “What do you do for a living?” I gauge their reaction, watching their body language as I say, “I’m in seminary right now, and I write for several Christian magazines.” Some people shuffle around uncomfortably, or they look away from me. Some light up with big smiles across their faces. And some nod matter-of-factly, as if I’d said, “I’m a file clerk at the library.”

I get scared because the moment I say it, I know some people will classify me. Some will think I’m judging them because “Christians think they’re perfect” (I’ve been told as much). Others will express enthusiasm that I’m a member of “the club” (I’ve been told something along these lines, too—ew!). I wonder if some Christians will dismiss me because I don't meet their high, holy expectations. And among those who aren't believers, I worry that my words and actions will define Christianity for them; perhaps they won't want to look any further after they've met me!

This scares me because I’m a Christ-follower—I’m not Jesus Christ. I’m one of the king’s messengers, not the king. I’m troubled when I’m told to “be Jesus,” or that I’m the “only Jesus some will ever see.” This too often is a call to act perfect, happy, and complete; we become like the Pharisee in this parable Jesus told:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (
Mark 18:9-14)

I want people to see my flaws and shortcomings, so they will understand my need for Jesus—and hopefully, theirs, too. And I really want to become comfortable just being myself, as God created me to be.

To ponder:
1) Why is it difficult to let others see our flaws, shortcomings, needs, and dependence?

2) Consider 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. According to the Apostle Paul, why is weakness important?

3) Why do you need Jesus? How would you explain this to someone?

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