Christians have a calling that is difficult for many reasons. One of the greatest challenges is that we are constant representatives of God. Romans 12, verses 4 to 5 tell us that as a part of the Church we are an integral part of the body of Christ. What this means, is that what we do, we do as representatives of Christ.
As representatives of Christ, we must think about representing His character, His love, and His passion. I find this hard as a sinful person, trying to represent perfection. Furthermore, there are so few modern role models of good representation of Christ. There are so few prominent figures who stand for Christ, and do it well.
However, for the first time for many years I am excited for the Church. Whilst I am not a Catholic, I believe that Pope Francis is the best prominent representative of Christ I have ever seen.
Why I am excited about Pope Francis
Pope Francis represents the best about the Church. He is the first Pope from the order of Jesuit priests who have an excellent history of teaching and service, the first from South America and has demonstrated the character of God clearly through his actions since his ordination. He has demonstrated 3 essential traits of representing Christ:
- Acknowledging sin
- Showing humility
- Showing abundant love
To be good representatives of Christ we must all acknowledge to each other that we are not perfect representatives. We are sinful, we are imperfect, and we are not Christ.
Despite being the leader of the world’s largest faith, and his word being taken as doctrine, Pope Francis acknowledges his sin:
“I am a sinner … I am sure of this. I am a sinner whom the Lord looked upon with mercy.” (reference)
By acknowledging sin we let others understand that we are not perfect, but despite that Jesus still is. It is through the mercy of Christ that we can be one with His body. This is clearly revealed in the last supper, where Jesus offers communion as a representation of His body, for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew chapter 26 verses 26-28).
Christ was humble, and did not seek His own glory, but the glory of God. He placed himself last. A clear example of the humility of Christ is when he washed the feet of the disciples (John chapter 13 verses 1-17). Jesus tells us we are called to be humble, meek, and merciful (Mathew chapter 5 verses1-12).
Pope Francis has embodied these traits recently by washing the feet of 12 inmates (reference) and calling Christians to help the poor in practical ways: “The poor are not a problem; they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practice in our lives the essence of the Gospel” (reference).
We should all aspire to serve those around us, despite their position, whether it is serving the poor, helping the sick, or caring for the despised. It is an integral part of the character of Christ to serve others, and we should strive to do the same.
As representatives of Christ, it is simply not enough to act or say the right things.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 3 we are told that:
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
It is through loving others that we best represent Christ. While only God knows what is in our hearts, from actions we can often see the heart of others.
To me, the greatest contribution Pope Francis has made is by showing a clear heart of love. In the Catholic Church he has called for reconciliation and made it clear that God’s love is for all. Regardless of what you have done, the Church will accept you and God will love you.
I hope that the protestant Churches around the world can follow his lead. By showing Christ-like love to all we are true representatives of Christ.
Nathanael Yates is a Neuroscience Researcher from Perth, Western Australia. He is constantly inspired by his astonishingly wise and beautiful wife and his adorable daughters.
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