Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. -Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)
A giant portrait hangs on the wall - just above eye level - it has been there so long, no one hardly notices it anymore. The image of a tall handsome man in a white gown walking through a meadow of dandelions, daisies, and pansies looks over anyone passing by. His hair is long, straight, and flowing - and he appears to be wearing a baby blue sash... or outer wrapping. Something like a shawl or scarf draped over his shoulder. Have you seen this picture?
The picture of Jesus Christ hanging in lobbies, vestibules, foyers, homes... usually looks like this guy... sometimes with a cute, spotless lamb in his arms. I'm still working to figure out where this version of Jesus entered the picture. Historians attribute these paintings to the renaissance painters in the italian region.
It just doesn't fit my image of Jesus Christ. My messiah was counter culture. He swam against the current. He pushed back. He stands toe-to-toe with opposition. He speaks with confidence and authority. He never backs down. He points his anger to those things that oppose His father. He fights through adversity and negative stereotypes to bring light to the truth. He is relentless and in constant pursuit of others.
Christians are not asked, but required to walk like Jesus. He came to show us the path, the steps, the process... the way. If we call ourselves disciples of Christ - then we must be fierce. We must put away our beauty queen pictures of Jesus - and replace them with authentic characteristics of the One who came from God - the One who fought through culture to find His cross.
Yes, it is more romantic to love the picture of Christ prancing through the meadow - but it isn't accurate... at all. While we each see Jesus through our own interpretation, we must be diligent to take in the whole picture of Jesus. Read the gospels and "listen" to the characteristics of Christ. Watch the complete picture of Jesus emerge.
It takes incredible fortitude to love the unlovable. It takes determination to go against the grain. It takes relentless commitment to carry the gospel into all nations - especially to those who hate you. Today, we stand with the savior of the world - who loves us so much - He went to hell and back to save us. Yes, my picture of Christ contains gentleness, but it also contains power, determination, and a relentless pursuit of truth.
If you want to compel someone to follow Christ - take down the artwork and paint the real picture of a Savior who did not quit until he reached the cross - and still works in us today. That is how we are to live. That is the picture of Christ we should keep in our heart.
THE RIGHT NEXT STEP
Ask 3 other people to describe their image of Christ... use that for discussion in small groups.
PRAY: God, you have given me a powerful image of your Son through your inspired writing. Remind me to search the life of Him to find his image rather than a portrait hanging on the wall. Give me the courage to be relentless. Amen.