Putting on Jesus
The image popped into my mind unbidden. Unexpected, sudden, and fully formed.
Like an entire movie (or maybe just a well-crafted advertisement), it played out in full in just an inkling of a moment.
I don’t even remember what got me started, just that I was talking to my daughter. I think we were talking about random acts of kindness, or stealth charity, or dressing up as a stealthy ninja and sneaking around the neighbourhood, doing kind things for total strangers.
(Yep, our conversations are pretty random some times.)
I weighed into the conversation with what I thought was a genius idea: what if we dressed up as Jesus, and went around doing awesome, selfless things for other people so that He’d get a good reputation?
For a split-second, we both thought the idea was genius.
And then, in the very same moment, it hit me. Hard.
We ARE dressed up as Jesus. Wherever we go, people see Jesus. And the things we do – all the things we do – we do in His name. They reflect on Him, They contribute to (or erode) HIS reputation so much more than our own.
It was sobering.
I remember when I was still in high school and wearing a school uniform every day of the week. We had a lot of rules surrounding the way we treated those uniforms, or what we did while wearing them. Under no circumstance could we be seen smoking or committing vandalism or being unruly while in our uniforms, because we were reflecting our school. In those uniforms, we WERE our school.
The Bible urges us to consider who we are in Christ in very similar ways:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
You may recall that followers of The Way were first called Christ-ians in Antioch – little Christs. (Acts 11:19-30). That’s because our spiritual forebears were so much like Christ that they resembled Him to those around them.
But the verses in Romans and Colossians remind us that, whether we resemble Him or not, we reflect on Him. It’s a weighty responsibility, and one we shouldn’t take lightly. BUT – Jesus says His yoke is light. He equips us to do His work with joy. It’s what we’re made for, after all! What better way is there to feel fulfilled and like you’re living your purpose?
As you meditate on how to put on Christ in the days ahead, here are some short ideas that may help:
- Random acts of kindness. Imagine you really WERE dressed up as Jesus. What’s the first thing you’d do? Take cookies to a neighbour? Collect groceries for someone who’s self-isolating? Send a text to a lonely friend? Easy, right? Go ahead and do it.
- Spend some time with Jesus just BEING. Conventional pop psychology assures us that we become the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Choose those five people wisely. This may be easier said than done during lockdown, when you may well have given birth to half the people closest to you every day! But we still have the option to build one relationship with someone outside of our family “bubble” – and that’s Jesus. Make it a priority to spend time with Him every day, talking, listening, and just being, soaking up His presence and letting His Holy Spirit make us more like Him.
- Enlist the help of a trusted friend. Choose someone you trust, whose heart is for your walk with Jesus, and commit to being intentionally vulnerable, transparent, and accountable with her. Allow her the space to speak into your life and hold a mirror to your actions and reactions when they don’t reflect Christ. Let her pray for you and with you and help you grow more like Jesus. And do the same for her. This is true discipleship at work, and it’s the foundation of a strong and living faith.