by Janet Keefe
I have been puzzling over something lately. The question I have is this, “What is more important, who I am inside, or how I represent Christ to others?” I am His workmanship, which is pretty amazing, but, while I am marveling that He created, loved, and died for me, am I using who I am to represent God to others? Am I acting as God’s ambassador? Or am I sitting quietly and contentedly, basking in the glow of His love, His forgiveness, His grace?
I revel in being loved by God. He knows my faults, my weaknesses, my errors in judgment, and yet, He loves me. He sees me in a way I cannot see myself. Because of His love, I live like a little hermit crab, protected inside a little shell, where I can disregard being misunderstood, disliked, and unloved because God knows me and loves me. I think, “Phew, I can just rest in God’s grace and stop beating myself up, this is nice”. It is nice, but it’s not enough.
I do not mean to make light of His mercy and His love. It is profound, vast, and abundant. It is something I am certainly undeserving of. I realize I cannot pay back the debt I owe, ever. I also realize that I should be glorifying God by being more Christlike in my actions.
Maybe I could be less grouchy with men who drive big trucks and honk at me when I’m doing the speed limit. Maybe I could try to have more compassion for my clients at work, and more patience with my staff. Maybe I could work just a little bit harder at the gym and a little bit harder on my eating plan. Not out of vanity, not as an idol, but because God asks me to honor Him with my mind, heart, soul, and body(1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Do my hurts make me suspicious of others?
Does my tiredness at the end of the day make me indifferent towards people?
Does my introversion prevent me from engaging with the lost?
Does my own comfort prevent me from telling the world about God’s love?
Do I think people are being mean to me and respond likewise?
Am I insensitive?
Am I unforgiving?
My “me-ness” is not for my benefit. God created me for others. I am to do what I do with “me” to honor Him. I want that to be true, but I know I have fallen short so many times. Yet, I am told that I am “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. (Ephesians 2:10)
It’s a tall order, to try to conform one’s outside person to be Christ’s ambassador. Fortunately, God also gave me an image to meditate on about the same time that He challenged me with my question. The image was of the woman who touched Christ’s clothing in order to be healed of her bleeding. In the Gospel of Matthew we read: “She said to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” He said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 9:21-22).
Why that image? Although I want to be one of His ambassadors, although I want this to be my life’s work, God also reminded me that in order to succeed, I need to grab on tight to the hem of His cloak and hold on.
Being a follower of Christ can be tough, even on the inside, where I am learning to see past all my faults and accept God’s abundant love for me and His perspective of me. On the outside, though, for an introvert like me, it can be somewhat uncomfortable and utterly exhausting to envision myself constantly reaching out to others with patience, with gentleness, with love. Evidently, though, I can do this. You can too. How? By holding on to the hem of His cloak, by never letting go of Him, and having faith in His power. God gives us the strength to resist sin. God is the one who gives us our abilities and He guides us in how to love others. God provides all the tools we need to act as His ambassadors. We simply need to take action.