If you are a Christian, you have the distinction of being among the most scrutinized group of people on Earth. Some Christians may see this as a negative and might object to being under a microscope. But students of scripture know that this scrutiny is God’s will for the believer.
Jesus says so in Matthew 5:14, 16, where he tells us that we are the light of the world and encourages us to let our lights shine so that all can see that we are his disciples.
In other words, we are Jesus’ role models to the world – beacons and examples to all people. He expects that through watching us, they will become followers of Jesus in thought and behavior.
Well, it seems obvious that the world hasn’t embraced Jesus’ expectation in this arena, probably for one simple reason: We’re not projecting the right image for them to emulate.
Scripture tells us that we are supposed to project the image of Christ. But what is that image? Maybe many of us just don’t know. So let’s search scripture for insight and direction.
In His word, God gives us four areas of behavior through which we can project the image of Christ and be the role model God expects us to be. Let’s explore each area, making note of how we stack up against God’s expectation.
I. Fellowship. This references the conduct of believers toward one another, found in Acts 2:42-47, where Luke describes the basic structure of the early church. His primary focus in this passage is unity in worship, study, attendance and thought and in loyalty and devotion to God and His word. God blessed the church with added growth. This can happen today.
II. Relationship. This refers to all humankind, both believers and unbelievers. The scripture is found in James 2:8-9, where James says we should demonstrate Christian love to all people, excluding no one. The result is positive relationships across the board, especially between you and all people within your sphere of friends and acquaintances.
III. Stewardship. This stresses the perspective that all we have belongs to God, and that He expects us to give to those in need. The scripture is in 1John 3:17-18, where John says our love for man should motivate us to be good stewards of all gifts from God. To do otherwise is evidence to God that we do not love him. Don’t talk about our love, but show it by what we do.
IV. Discipleship. This is found in John 8:31, where John shares the true test of discipleship. We can profess to be a disciple of Christ, but the proof is seen in how faithful and obedient we are to his teachings. A true disciple will consistently excel in areas 1, 2 and 3.
Well, how did you do? Do you project the expected image for the benefit of those who are watching you? If we’re honest, I expect that most of us will have to acknowledge that we’re a work in progress and still have a lot of work to do to reach the level God wants us to reach. If you’re in that group, start your self-improvement plan with a dedicated study of the Holy Scriptures.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church. Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column will appear monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.