Finding Christ in the Christian
I have been in the church, and in the Christian world, my entire life. My father was a Baptist preacher and I accompanied my first adult choir cantata (don’t judge) at age fourteen. I was also exposed to many people who did not attend church. The reason was always the same: Christians are hypocrites.
Christians have been fighting the war against hypocrisy since the beginning of the movement. Think Peter and the rooster. It has always been difficult to follow Christ and admit it to our friends. Granted, a lot more was at stake (literally) one thousand years ago, but it is still challenging to be an obvious Christian in today’s world. You are either ridiculed for being dorky or berated for being a hypocrite if you can’t follow every rule perfectly all the time.
I do think it is important for Christians to “be” different. I think others should notice that we have some “otherness” about us. Maybe we are calmer than others. Kinder. Less apt to judge. But I think something is missing if we are only focused on making sure others see Christ in us.
I know a girl who is difficult. She is not kind. She is not calm. She is not helpful. I don’t really want to be around her. I don’t want to be her teacher. Recently I was trying hard to be “Christ-like” in her presence. I was modeling love and happiness. It wasn’t working. Then, I heard that voice you hear when you actually listen. “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Stop trying to show Me to this girl and actually try to SEE Me in her. Because I am there.” Ouch.
I am reminded of the hymn lyrics, “Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus”. This song is not talking about you trying to show Jesus in your own beautiful face. We are instructed to find Jesus. Not in the mirror, but in the masses.
Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?” The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:37-40 (CEV)
This is a message that will preach to any group of teenagers and I encourage you to use this as a topic for conversation with your youth choir. We break into small “families” and discuss big issues from time to time as a way to bond and get to know each other better. Read the Matthew scripture, warm up with the chorus “Open Our Eyes”* and discuss: 1) how to show Jesus in ourselves, and 2) how to see Jesus in difficult people.
God is inclusive; His light and witness is in all of His children. So, Christians, take heart and eat your Wheaties! Your job just got harder. Because it is not enough to simply SHOW Christ to the world. It is also our calling, our mission, our great responsibility to SEE Christ in others. ALL others.
* This little chorus is from Maranatha Music, 1976, and can be found on page 2086 of The Faith We Sing, a supplement to The United Methodist Hymnal. You will know of other hymns and choruses that would work as well for this exercise.
CUEnotes Contributor, Director of Youth Music Ministry, FUMC Athens, GA