In the early 80’s The Imperials (a gospel group I still like) recorded a song called “You’re The Only Jesus”. The chorus of which was:
Cause You’re the only Jesus some will ever see
You’re the only words of life, some will ever read
So let them see in you the One in whom is all they’ll ever need
You’re the only Jesus, some will ever see
I loved the song then, and I still like it 30 years later. At the same time, I have realized a few things through the years.
1. It’s certainly true that Christians are ‘salt’ and ’light’ in a pretty dark and messed up world. Whether or not our ‘saltiness’ is of good quality, or our ‘light’ is bright might be another matter. The quality of our saltiness and brightness of our lights is directly proportional to the level at which we have been transformed into the likeness of the Father’s dear Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. There are a lot of folks out there who don’t profess Christ and might be avowed atheists that demonstrate the same behaviors and seem to have the same character traits that should be visible in Christians. Dare I say that some nonbelievers are saltier and brighter than some of us Christians?
3. Trying to live up to being quality salt and a bright light (better and brighter than my nonbelieving co-worker) can really be exhausting. Every time I blow it I know it, and here comes a guilt trip. Some might say that there’s a conflation/confusion of law and grace when too much emphasis is placed on ‘doing’/’being’ by human effort.
4. I absolutely CAN’T be Jesus for anyone. I haven’t lived a perfect life, die for anybody’s sin, or rise from the dead. That I might be the ONLY Jesus someone might see is a really scary thought. For that to be true I would need to be the only believer left on the planet, or that ‘someone’ is hit by a truck and I was the last person to see him alive. It’s still scary.
5. Even if I am doing OK in the salt and light department, my unbelieving family member, neighbor, co-worker or friend needs to connect with the gospel that has ‘words’, not just my good example. After all, it’s not really about WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), but WJD (What Jesus Did). Christ died for our sins, and conveying that message needs words in the telling, not just good deeds.
“. . .but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
The specific instruction I receive from that passage is twofold:
1. Honor God in my heart. A man’s behavior is always a reflection of what is in his heart. If God rules in my heart, He will rule my behavior.
2. Be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks. When someone asks me what makes me tick, it’s time to share Christ. If someone asks me about God, or wants to talk about God ‘stuff’ (it happens), I need to be have good answers or know where to find them.
If I focus on honoring God in my heart and being ready to give answer for the hope that is in me, “being Jesus” (whatever that means) will take care of itself. I’m called to present Christ, not ‘be’ Him.
That’s quite a relief!