What responsibility do I have as a believer in the Lord Jesus? Is it enough to have made a profession of faith in the Lord? To live a good life, whatever that means. Or is there more that is expected of me as a child of God? Do I have a responsibility to represent Jesus in the world around me?
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Table of contents
Declaring Jesus as Lord
Before I can even consider representing Jesus, it is essential that I have a relationship with him. In Romans 10:9-10 Paul tells us that if we profess Jesus as Lord, and believe in our hearts, we will be saved. I have known many who say that professing Jesus as Lord is as simple as saying those words, or something similar. But I believe it is much more than that.
To profess Jesus as Lord is to commit your life to his lordship. He is the master. I am the servant. Salvation is not a fire insurance policy. It is a commitment of our lives to the one who gave his life for us. It is becoming his disciple, taking up our cross, and following him (Matt. 16:24).
Representing Jesus to the World
I remember my dad talking to me about the importance of my behavior. How I acted reflected back on him. Other people would judge my parents, at least in part, on what they saw in me. The same message was stressed when I joined the navy and deployed overseas. The citizens of the country where I was stationed would look at me as a representative of my country. If I was respectful of them and acted in accordance with their laws and cultural norms, I would reflect well on the U.S. But if I did not show respect to them and their culture, or I violated their laws, that reflected poorly on my country.
And it is no different as a follower of Christ. If I go by the name of Christian, the people I encounter are going to use me in forming their opinion of Christianity, of Christ, and of God. And it seems to make little difference to this world whether I am truly a follower of Christ, or simply call myself a Christian. They are going to wrap us all up together as one. And, unfortunately, those with a negative witness are going to have a bigger impact than those with a positive witness. As you can tell from the T.V. news, it is the negative that draws the most attention.
I find it sad that there are so many who represent Jesus poorly to the rest of the world. But I should not let that discourage me from being faithful to his call in my life, and reflecting his mercy, grace, and love to the world around me. Regardless of what others do, I can choose to reflect the light of Christ into a world of darkness.
Letting Your Light Shine
The gospel of John begins by identifying the Word as God and as having a life that was the light of the world (John 1:1-4). In John 9:5, Jesus identified himself as the light of the world. And then in John 12:36, he told his disciples to believe in the light so that they might become children of light.
As children of the light, we are now the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). And as the light of the world, Jesus has charged us to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). We let the light of Christ shine through us by what we do. Our ‘good deeds’ will reflect well on the Father above and will bring glory to him.
Peter tells us much the same thing in 1 Peter 2:12. “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” The way we live our lives is important. People are watching us, looking for some fault that will justify their rejection of the God we serve. Make every effort to live in such a way that the people you contact will see God in you and glorify him.
The Witness of the Early Church
In the first few centuries of its life, the church grew by leaps and bounds. There are many explanations as to why that happened. A common language, easy transportation, and the Pax Romana all would have contributed to the ease with which Christianity spread throughout the empire. Dissatisfaction with the moral climate and the empty polytheism of the Greek / Roman world would have contributed. And the witness of the early apostles and those they trained would have maintained a fervency to spread the gospel for a while.
But a significant factor was also the lifestyle and actions of the early believers. The Amazing Growth of the Early Church, an article by William Dreyer, documents some of the early writings that made mention of the actions of the early church that made them distinct from their culture and attracted people to them. A quote from Eusebius, concerning the response of Christians to a third-century famine, will help to illustrate the good deeds of the early church.
In this way death, waging war with these two weapons, pestilence and famine, destroyed whole families in a short time, so that one could see two or three dead bodies carried out at once . Then did the evidences of the universal zeal and piety of the Christians became manifest to all the heathen. For they alone in the midst of such ills showed their sympathy and humanity by their deeds. Every day some (Christians) continued caring for and burying the dead, for there were multitudes that had no one to care for them; others collected in one place those who were afflicted by the famine throughout the whole city, and gave bread to them all; so that this thing became noised (spoken of) abroad among all men, and they glorified the God of the Christians and, convinced by the facts themselves, confessed that they alone were truly pious and religious …(Schaff, P. & Wace, H., 1961, 363-363, A select library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, W.M. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids.)
As followers of Christ, we are called to share the light of the gospel with a world living in darkness. We most effectively do that with words. But if our life does not match what we say, then our words will have little impact. We need to let the light of Christ shine through us in our good deeds. And then people will listen to what we tell them
Being a Negative Example
In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter warned about false teachers who would introduce destructive heresies within the church. And he followed that by saying that “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (2 Pet. 2:2). And Paul, speaking to the Jews, said, “You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Rom. 2:23-24).
Both passages should be a warning to us. Just as a life characterized by good deeds will glorify God. So, a life that is characterized by depraved conduct will bring God’s truth into disrepute. Depraved conduct paints a picture of a life of drunkenness and depravity. And most of us would rightly condemn such a lifestyle. But if our life does not reflect well on our Lord, then for all intents and purposes, it is depraved and acting as a negative representation of Christ to our world.
We have been entrusted to be the hands and feet of Jesus, representing him in a world that is desperately in need of him. That is a great responsibility that we should make every effort to fulfill. Let others see Jesus in you.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
If you have found value in this post, please consider subscribing to A Clay Jar so that you don’t miss any other posts.
This article was first published on Christianity.com on November 8, 2021