I was watching Sunday afternoon football recently and saw that annoying Nokia commercial. That one where they are crawling all over each other to get the best shot of their kids on stage. It got me really thinking about many things:
- Why do people expect high quality pictures from a phone?
- I’m so glad that I don’t fancy myself some sort of professional photographer.
- Apple is still clearly better.
- The guy with the hair and glasses cracks me up every time.
- I wonder what I can learn from this illustration?
I wonder how often we recognize how similar we are to that illustration. The collective Church as a whole, I wonder how many times we recognize how depicting that commercial is of our existence as seen by the rest of the world. Do you see it?
Every single church in America would make the claim that they are portraying Jesus in some way, shape or form. To emphasize the point, we could probably say that even every Christian is a portrayal of Jesus in some capacity. Perhaps we could say that they are trying to provide a snapshot of Jesus so that others can see Him too. But the real question is this:
Can They See Him?
And instead of getting a clear picture of Jesus from the perspective and vantage point that we all are granted because of the story of our lives, we intend to somehow discredit others perspective in order to lift up our own and make Christ more known. But I think we get it wrong; very wrong.
In our efforts to make clear the gospel, we often throw in discussions and arguments that really don’t do anything but detract from the original subject, that is, Jesus. We talk about the End Times and we talk about predestination. We talk about grace versus truth (like they are mutually exclusive or something) and topical versus textual. And more times than not, we get into public, intense discussions about some of these topics, with Christians. I wonder how clear the picture really is? Can They See Him?
In our efforts to make the gospel accessible to the world around us, we have done a great job of pushing and shoving each other around. As a matter of fact, in our pushing and shoving, we have probably made it pretty hard for anybody to see Christ. I bet we look a lot more like that commercial more than we care to think. Or maybe we just don’t care what we look like. I don’t know. But I do know what James said in Acts and it seemed pretty important to him:
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”
I want you to hear this as a recognition that we should do more to lift up Jesus and less to establish some sort of qualifications that deem you acceptable to be a part of God’s family (as if we, as adopted people, should be in charge of those qualifications. Didn’t seem to work too well for the Pharisees either.). We should do more to help people continue to develop a desire for the God of the Bible and continue to be drawn near to Him and to be more like him and less to personify the things that divide the Church and make us more like the world.
We should do more things, together, that lift up the banner of Jesus instead of lifting up the banner of Me. We should do more to display the beauty of His Messy Majestic Bride instead of pointing out all of her flaws. We should be honest about the things we know and more honest about the things that we don’t know instead of making it up as we go to serve our own purposes.
Students need to see the unity of His Church. Students need to see a Church that is making attempts to line up with Scripture. The more we can unify on what we know is true of Christ, the more students will understand what His Church is capable of because of Christ. The next generation needs to know that they are blessed with a Creator who made them different from each other to display His ability to bridge gaps that no other god can, to do things that no other god can, and to ultimately bring His people to Himself, something no other god can do.
So, what can you do? What can you do to ensure that they can actually see him? How are you making the picture of Christ the clearest thing that comes out of your life each and every day? This isn’t a difficult question. It’s actually quite simple. It just remains to be seen if you and I are going to do everything we can to make sure that they can see Him.