Every so often, God places a word or phrase on my heart, and for a time, I focus on what He wants me to do in regard to that particular word.
Earlier this year, my phrase was “Fear Not.” I’ve tried to live the past few months as fearlessly as I can, putting myself in situations that make me uncomfortable in order to build community, help others, or serve in some way. (Y’all, I went to dinner at a stranger’s house. She’s now a friend!)
Right now, the word God is giving me is REPRESENT. (This word is literally everywhere. I started this blog last Thursday, and it showed up again in my Life Group yesterday. God isn’t playing, y’all!)
It seems like an easy enough word to understand. It means to stand in the place of another person, right?
Webster’s defines the word represent like this: to be entitled or appointed to act or speak for (someone), especially in an official capacity.
We kind of do this in our daily lives, don’t we?
As kids we represent our families. Bearing our parents’ last names, we trot out into the world, representatives of the Smiths or Johnsons. Our actions directly affect the reputation of our family.
As teenagers, we represent our schools. We play sports, or we’re on the Chess club, and we act on behalf of our schools. Our wins, losses, and sportsmanship reflect the lessons we’re learning at school.
When we’re older, we represent the companies we work for, the schools where we teach, or the branch of service we join. We’re responsible for acting on behalf of the places with which we are affiliated.
I understand all of those things on a basic level. My behavior and actions have been a reflection of my parents, schools, and the companies I worked for. I spoke and acted on behalf of them all.
Last week, God showed me something that gave me pause.
My women’s group is doing a study by Jennifer Rothschild called Missing Pieces. In the study, one of the discussion questions had to do with being a representative of Jesus. We talked for a minute about what someone representing Jesus would look like. Mostly, they would be full of love and grace. Because Jesus was!
When I left, I wasn’t happy with the answer I had given because it was glossy and generic. And when I looked at the definition of represent last night, my eyes were opened a little more. I am appointed as a representative of Christ. I need to be representing Him like it’s my job. Loving like I’m getting paid. Meeting the needs of others like a boss. Showing grace like I’ve been doing it my whole life. I am an appointed representative of Jesus. When I speak, I speak on behalf of Jesus. When I act, my actions are a direct reflection of Him. Yikes.
When I think of the ways I’m representing Jesus, I know I can do better. I mean, I’m a nice person. I do my best to help when I can, and be forgiving. But I fall so, so short here. I mean we all do, but I feel like I should know better by now.
So, what does a representative of Jesus look like? Here’s my honest answer.
Representatives of Jesus show compassion.
Representatives of Jesus see an unfortunate situation and try to empathize with the affected people. Instead of posting a hateful meme about people on welfare on Facebook, they look at the issue and try to find solutions that would help a person end their reliance on government assistance. They show compassion for parents who are raising their kids on food stamps that run out before the end of the month. Representatives of Christ help “the least of these,” they don’t regard them as “less than me.”
Representatives of Jesus recognize the hurt of others.
Jesus heard people out. As His representatives, it’s up to us to listen when people say they’re hurting. We don’t tell the black community to “Shake it off” and get over systemic racism. We ask “How can I help?”
As an appointed representative of The Messiah, I need to be looking for hurt people, because He is the Ultimate Healer. Jesus didn’t come for the religious, he came for the wounded. It’s never our job to decide whether or not a person should be hurting. When we see hurt, it is our job acknowledge it and to help if we can.
Representatives of Jesus aren’t judgy.
You guys, this one is so easy to fall into.
We see an inappropriate outfit, or terrible behavior, and we automatically see the million ways in which we are so. much. better. than another person. We hear about the wife who left her husband, or the guy who gets drunk every night before he comes home, or a high school girl who gets pregnant, and we decide that their sin is way worse than ours. We refuse to befriend them, or worse, we withdraw our love from friends who are obviously hurting, because we can’t be affiliated with someone who sins. I mean, I never sin, so I can’t be associate with someone who does, right?
You guys, Jesus hung out with hookers, drunks, and thieves. He loved them just as much as he loved the men and women who listened to His teaching. Did He want them to stop sinning? YES! But did He withhold His love because of who they were? NO!
Jesus says “love your enemies and pray for them.” We tend to dislike the people who offend us. It rubs us the wrong way. But when we pray for our enemies, hearts are changed. Sometimes it’s our heart, sometimes it’s theirs. But we don’t get to wallow in our judgement of them.
He says “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” “Remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the splinter from your brother’s.” Your sin isn’t any better or worse than someone else’s. We all do it, so we don’t get to decide who is less holy. God does, though. And doesn’t that lighten our load? We get to let God judge others, while we simply get to love them. WIN!!!
Representatives of Jesus show kindness when they disagree.
As Christians, obviously some things aren’t cool with us. And that’s okay!
What isn’t okay? Being hateful.
We can be a passionate bunch. I’m with you on that. But who ever won anybody for Jesus by telling someone all the ways they’re going wrong?
What if, instead of standing outside clinics with posters of aborted fetuses, we, as a church show love to pregnant women in difficult circumstances? What if we LOVINGLY help them with other options, or encourage them if they decide to keep their babies. What if—and you may need to unclutch your pearls here—What if we love that baby just as much after it’s born as we did before it ever took a breath?
What if we step up and talk about what we’re FOR instead of what we’re against?
Representatives of Jesus serve.
Jesus tells us to serve others. This is pretty basic. Serve wherever you are. Don’t expect others to accommodate you—show up to serve! Ask what you can do. If you see a need, meet it. Don’t wait for someone else. Just serve!
Also, don’t think that you aren’t good enough to serve somewhere. If God shows you a need, He probably wants you to try and meet it. And the flip side: Don’t ever think you’re above serving. We’re all servants, here.
Even more humbling: Serving those society would typically consider unworthy.
Representatives of Jesus love without conditions.
You guys, this is so hard, but so key.
Jesus doesn’t have conditions for His love. If he did, he’d have avoided the cross because we’re all undeserving of His sacrifice. But He loves us so much that He put himself up there and let God turn away from Him.
As representatives of Jesus, He puts that kind of love inside us. It’s our job to give it to other people. And not just people we deem loveable. ALL PEOPLE.
The past month or so, I’ve been more aware than ever that I’m a representative of Jesus Christ. He has appointed me to act and speak on his behalf. When people are speaking to me, they should be able to see a little bit of Him. What am I showing them about who Jesus is? Am I showing them His love and kindness? Am I meeting their needs the way He wants me to?
Thinking of representing Jesus instead of myself, my family, or my job, changes my perspective. When Jesus flows through me, others get to see Him. Someone who may have never met Him have the opportunity to feel His love, kindness, and grace. What if I decide to just be Becky? Does the Bible say “Becky’s grace is sufficient?” Um. NO. That’s why being Christ’s representative is so vital in helping others know who He is.
Dear Lord, please help me to remember that I am appointed to speak and act on your behalf—that my actions and words can either lead people to you, or to run far from you. Thank you for never running from me, and for your unconditional grace and love.What would you add to my list? What are some other ways we can be representatives of Jesus? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments section below!
This was one of my first little nudges.
April 20, 2015