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Sunday, November 24, 2013

On Representing Jesus

Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel

Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” (Daniel 4:27).

What warnings or encouragements would you need to hear from Jesus in order to go out and represent him? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1353).

I first look at this question from the point of view of going out to represent anyone at all. The most important question is “To what extend do you want me to represent you as a free agent? How much latitude do I have to explore issues by asking questions I think you might ask? Am I certain of your values and feel comfortable that I can live and affirm them? If action on my part is required that would bind you, do I have your complete understanding of this fact and have permission to make such decisions in your stead? Let us take a rather important matter as an example—going into the real estate market to explore a home and to actually execute a contract. Obviously my first assignment as your representative would be to get a complete understanding of all your preferences regarding where you would like to live and in what type of residence. I would also have to have a list of “deal killers”—a list of those things you simply would not accept under any circumstances. A list of “strong pluses” and priorities would also be helpful. Finally I would have to be assured of mutual trust, as indeed obviously you would need the same.

So before going out to represent Jesus, I would need to be familiar with his values as exemplified in his life and death. I would need to know if Jesus would be comfortable with my asking the following question—what would Jesus have me do, rather than what would Jesus do? For certainly there is no way that I can precisely fill Jesus’s sandals. I must be satisfied that he would allow and even make positive use of this obvious circumstance. In other words, my talents (not Jesus’s) are to be maximized in this representation—I am not to try to be a clone of Christ. I would need a list of those types of things Jesus would find flat-out unacceptable in my witness for him. I would also want a list of those things most critical that he would want me to strive for. In other words, I would need a good deal of help with priorities since the harvest field is way too expansive for any one individual. I suppose I would want marching orders much like he gave his apostles when he sent them out to represent him.

The primary warning I would expect from Jesus is that I must stay close to Scripture and the tone and tenor of his life’s work. This would involve not only individual Bible study, but also association with other Christians. I must be alert as to the tendency to substitute my will for his. I would need his encouragement because I dislike being smothered in contumely. I realize that followers of Jesus habitually expose the world’s sacred cows and taboos—one being its chronic refusal to acknowledge that it engages in any sort of oppression—“we’re always fair, always square” is the fiercely, sometimes lethally, defended motto. I would ask Jesus to give me what he had—the unflinching honesty of the prophets and the grace to accept that being smeared with contumely simply comes with the territory. I would also pray a prayer not unfamiliar to him—let me always accept that my mission is more important than my life.

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