Being Jesus to the World

My heart broke last week as I watched one horrific event after another unfold on the news. It was not just the bombing of the Boston marathon but earthquakes and poisonous letters and shootings and universities being evacuated due to bomb threats that brought me to my knees. 

I know terrible things happen around the world all the time, but disasters seemed to escalate last week. It reminded me how desperately this world needs Jesus. And guess what? Showing Jesus to the world is our job.

We know we are called to be salt and light, and we know we are commanded to love one another. But what does that look like? There is a passage in Scripture that tells us how to be Jesus to the world, and it is one of my all-time favorites.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:9-18, ESV).

I started memorizing this passage because it helps me live out my daily prayer, which is that others might see Christ in me. It is easy to let your heart be hardened because of things you experience, but the hard task we face is loving others regardless of how they treat us.

I remember peers in high school making fun of me for listening to only Christian music and not swearing. It was hard to fit in because I didn’t party on the weekends or drink alcohol. I could walk over to a group of friends in the middle of a conversation, and they would stop talking. They would announce that their conversation wasn’t appropriate for a Christian to overhear.

College was a much different experience. I attended a Christian university, and I was spoiled for four years by its godly community. If you currently attend a Christian college, I urge you not to take its community for granted. Use it as a time to strengthen your faith because you will need that solid foundation once you graduate. 

Most of the people I interact with now on a daily basis are not Christians, and it is a lonely road to walk down sometimes. It feels like a constant struggle to build relationships with those who don’t share my faith. I feel like I’m back in high school, but those teenagers are now adults. Instead of mocking my values, they respect them, but they also feel the need to tread lightly around me so as not to offend me.

It upsets me because I just want to get to know people for who they are, whether our lifestyles match up or not. The last thing I want is for people to feel like I’m judging them. I try so hard not to be that kind of Christian because I know I’m not perfect. Even so, I still feel held back at an arm’s length sometimes.

But no matter how close people let me get, I try to point them to Jesus through my actions. I have become a prayer warrior for those in my life who don’t know Him, and I try to let my actions speak louder than words. I want to live out what Paul wrote in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If we dedicate ourselves to living in a way that shows Jesus to the world, we can be light in a world filled with much darkness.

How do you relate to those in your life who don’t know Jesus, and how are you Jesus to your corner of the world?