But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Today friends, I wish to share something that has been rolling around inside of my heart, my mind a LOT lately. I wish to hear back from you ~ your thoughts, your heart, your learning from the Lord about this very subject. I am intrigued and smitten by this whole thing and I crave to hear how others who follow after Christ have grappled with this very same thing.
Because I do not yet have the answer ~ (I almost never have the FULL answer)!
But I have been given some of what I think the answer is…in my own life and learning and following after Jesus. I wish to share some of that with you today.
So here is the question:
How do we ensure that when others see things in us that they think are good, that JESUS is who they see, versus OURSELVES?
Things that make you go “hmmmm.”
Sometimes I find myself dumbing down (or dimming down, I should say), the light of Jesus inside of me. I don’t want to freak people out, so I start to dim it down a little ~ bury it.
It’s not because I’m ashamed of Jesus. It’s that I find myself starting to wonder ~ are they just thinking that they see “me” here? Do they think that Annie is “all that?”
Which leads me right back to the question I wrote up above.
It’s easy to study the Word and find much about humility, servant leadership, turning over self to the Lord daily and nailing it to the cross, and real love ~ real love in the midst of ugly ~ sacrifice in order to put God first and others right next in line ~ the struggle to kill self daily and fill ourselves with more of Him, less of us. It’s easy to find guidance about this in His love letter to us.
Easy to study. But in all fairness, I must say ~ Hard to do.
But what about how others respond to us and our following after Jesus? Can we “control” what their reactions and responses are? Is it possible to make sure that they don’t walk away from interactions with us seeing the awesomeness of who they think that WE are, and instead see that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ ~ one that they can have too if they seek Him?
Can we make certain every single time that they recognize Jesus is the only good that is within us?
That is the question, friends. That is the big and burning question! Here’s what I have found as I have prayed over this so very much lately:
- It is not always possible to make sure that people know (from our words) that all they see in us that they think is good is not about us ~ some of that is to be left to the Lord.
- It IS our calling to make sure that the rest of our life – the stuff they see when they are not able to interact with us face-to-face – IS giving all credit/glory/honor to Jesus Christ and IS bringing glory to Him, versus ourselves.
People watch. People study us if they see something in us that intrigues them. Sometimes they walk away and think “that person is so great”, or “I want to be like him some day”, or “that person is so special, wonderful, good.”
Sometimes they walk away and then they make their own judgement about what they experienced when they interacted with us.
Do they know? Do they know by what we do and say (the rest of the time) that is is not due to us, but due to what Christ is doing in us that there is a light that they see there?
Do they know? Can we make sure that they know?
We have the privilege of not trying to pretend that we are perfect, but simultaneously giving Him all the glory and honor and praise for ALL that happens to us ~ the good, the bad, and the beauty He creates out of the ugly.
Eventually they will see Him, and not us. But only if it is Him that they seek.
They may not know it yet ~ they may not realize that what they see is Christ living inside of this person, and not an extra-dose-of-awesome that the individual possesses.
But if they hang around long enough, and if we are honest in how He has delivered us out of darkness and continues to work in our sinful flesh, they might see.
- They will see HIM if their hearts are open.
- They will see if they are seeking HIM.
- They will see someone they do not fully recognize, but they want to get to know.
- They will see ~ they will eventually see that it is not possible for one person to be so “good” without divine intervention.
But what if they never do endeavor to seek Him? Are we then wrong to be this person ~this light~ in their lives that they might look up to, admire, think is great and/or want to be like?
Are we leading them into temptation or a false path if we are examples of how God can work within a person when they don’t want to (or even know how to) attribute any of it to Christ at all?
As Jesus walked among us, He presented the good news and allowed others to choose whether to believe or not. He then moved on, but not without continuing to shine His light everywhere that He went.
A young man once tried to point out the goodness of the man He saw that Jesus was…and Jesus replied;
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” Luke 18:19
Jesus is not saying here that He was not good. He is trying to help the man to recognize that He (Jesus) IS GOD!
He was trying to help the man to see that he should not recognize the man in Him as good, rather recognize that He IS God, and the good that He sees is because He is God!
Only God is good.
Unlike Jesus, I am not God. No Christian walking this planet is God either. But we are His children and He lives in us if we are following after Him with all our hearts and have accepted His gift of salvation.
The “good” in us (the real good) is of God, not of us.
- Let’s remember that we are sometimes nothing but the planters of the seeds.
- Let’s remember that God is the only One who can bring about growth.
- Let’s never forget that just because we don’t see the full blooms that result from the seeds He allowed us to plant, that He continues to work in the garden of each and every individual.
- Let’s remember that it may be a blessing beyond comprehension that we don’t always get to see the seeds bloom.
If we did, we might be tempted to take credit in some way for that, wouldn’t we?
What if we saw them die, or start to bloom and then get infected or filled with weeds? We might become discouraged, because we thought WE actually had something to do with the success (or failure) of how their garden grows.
And when others comment on our own beautiful gardens, what then?
If others attribute the beauty of our garden to us somehow, what about that, friends?
Tell them who is responsible for the beauty that they see.
Tell them through all the rest of what you do and say that the garden hasn’t always been pretty.
Tell them how you tried to be the best caretaker in the world ~ how you studied how to make things take bloom and grow ~ how you methodically tried to fully invest yourself into being the best de-weeder on the planet, but the weeds still came anyway.
Tell them how the beauty that they see is only because of the divine intervention and complete Lordship of the only One who can make beauty out of the ugly.
Tell the story of Jesus, friends! Tell them how His story is far more important than your story.
Tell them how His story is the One you are a part of ~ not the other way around!
And remember ~ our primary role is to love others and simply let the blooms tell His story.
And the weeds…
And the darkness…
And the Suffering…
And the GOOD that He has brought out in the midst of it all.
Yes, I have the fullness of the answer that He wishes for me to have today….
We are responsible to let the light shine ~
What others “see” is up to Him.
Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:15-16