What kind of Jesus are you representing?
Are you representing a Savior who died for all, extended grace for all, and loves all?
Or do you represent your own custom-made Jesus? You know, the kind who fits with who you want him to be. The Jesus that is passionate about your chosen do-or-die topics, but is dismissive of inconvenient truths.
Who you represent Jesus to be matters. It matters a lot. When the world looks at those of us who call ourselves believers, they are assessing who we claim Jesus to be. Is Jesus about unconditional love, or does he pick and choose? Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat? Does He shun people because of their lifestyle, choices, and sins? Or does He extend grace?
We often give the world a confusing message about Jesus. They look at Christ-followers and see that we are so busy pointing our fingers at others (and each other) that we have little time for service and unconditional love. Is it our judgement we want them to see? Are we so interested in being “right” that we are willing to get this all wrong? What the world often thinks of when they think of Christians is a nasty version of self-righteous and opinionated people who are more worried about taking a stand than they are about loving people. People can’t see our love when we more stand against something instead of for something.
Now, before all of the Christians begin inboxing me about this, let’s set the record straight. I’m not talking about compromising truth. I’m not suggesting that we become wishy-washy about what we believe or water down our message. There is such thing as absolute truth and we should stand by that. There is such a thing as right and wrong, and sin is not subjective. We need to tell the world that there is one way to salvation, one way to a redemptive relationship with the God of the universe, and one way to forgiveness and eternal life.
But how do we tell them? How do we show them the way to Jesus? Does our Jesus and our community of believers look like something outsiders would want to be a part of?
Maybe instead of being determined to be right on hot-button issues and persuading people that they’re wrong, we can love them instead. Maybe we can share a meal, help a neighbor, or lend a listening ear. Maybe we can do more listening than talking. Maybe, just maybe, if we let people know they are valued as they are and make them feel loved, they will be more open to our message.
We can stand for truth, love, and grace without making people feel less than. Without making them feel like we are looking down our nose. We certainly aren’t better, we just know the path to forgiveness. A path we should be more determined about sharing with others than pointing out their flaws.
This election cycle seems to have brought out the worst of some of us. Both sides of the aisle include Christians, but truthfully, neither side will save us. We’re busy posting our opinions on social media, thinking we are convincing someone to our side. But when the ugliness comes out and the finger pointing starts, we reveal our fear in a worldly system that is flawed and broken. Our trust should be placed firmly in a God who we know to be sovereign and in control. God will not be surprised by the outcome of the election, but our behaviors, attitudes, and words will leave an impact long after.
Do we realize that the outside world is looking in our Christian world to see how we behave? How we react to worldly circumstance? How we treat each other? We even struggle to get along ourselves sometimes. The Christian community should be among the most encouraging and uplifting community there is. And yet, so often, this isn’t the case. We complain and criticize and point out our differences. There are splits in denominations which is glaring proof that we can’t all agree and get along. What does this say about our Jesus?
So, what did Jesus focus on?
When I look at scripture, I see Him focus on relationships. I see Him focus on people. I see Jesus’ focus on caring for the vulnerable, telling of God’s love, and bringing people to himself. He ate with sinners, healed those we’d consider undesirable, and performed miracles to demonstrate his power. He met people where they were and showed them the way to eternal life. He didn’t wait until people had their lives together to love them. He didn’t check first to be sure that all of their opinions matched up. He was about his Father’s business.
We should be, too.
We should be about the business of loving others. In doing so we will represent a Biblical Jesus – the true Jesus who died for all, who loves all, and desires for all to come to him. There is room at his table…and that’s the Jesus we all want to follow.