August 8, 2012

The mark of Jesus

Last night I watched an Olympic athlete take third place in a race. Her face shone with joy, yet her joy was not like the others. She verified my perception when she opened her mouth to thank God for giving her this gift to run. 
Years ago, a friend told us that before she became a Christian, she recognized Christians because their faces shone. Sometimes I recognize those who believe by their gentle spirit or by their serenity, or by their love for others. In the early days of the church, another characteristic gave them away.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Because of Jesus, these ordinary men had an extraordinary boldness. In other passages, this change of demeanor is described as a fragrance.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)
In still other verses, God’s Word uses more metaphors for the attitude and actions of His people. He calls us salt and light.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13–16)
Today’s devotional author says that whatever occupies my mind will be stamped in some way on my outward appearance. That is, if I am preoccupied with this world, it will make an impression on me. If I think of my trials and sorrows, that will somehow show up in my outward appearance. If my focus is my failures, people will see that in me. 

Instead, if I practice the Christian discipline of looking at Jesus and letting thoughts of Him fill my heart and mind, then my life will be impressed with Him and others will know that I believe in Jesus. 

Some days, Lord, I do not feel particularly bold. I wonder if my life is fragrant or just smelly. I pray to be salt and light but cannot taste or sense any changes. Yet two things come to mind. One is when a person I had not shared my faith with told another person that she knew I was a Christian. I do not know how she knew except that You had put Your mark on me. The other thought is that a reflection cannot see its own self; the image that is reflected is for others to see. With that in mind, keep my mind stayed on You that I might faithfully and joyfully reflect to the world the image of You.

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