Does your church community encourage you to live as a good witness to the world? Do you ever hear sermons admonishing you to consider your relational behaviour so you can 'be Jesus' to those who don't know him? We are called to question 'what would Jesus do?', and live out our own answer.
But in a world that is stained with sin, sorrow, and corruption, your ability to live in a way that embodies Christianity is not just difficult, it is impossible. Too often we are delivered the message that we need to work harder and live better to make Christianity attractive.
For the Christian life to be relevant and engaging, we hear that we need to paint a good picture of what the Christian life is like. So we post shameless selfies at our megachurch conference with hands raised, eyes closed, smiles wide, and strobe light shimmering.
We genuinely believe that this will win people to Jesus. We present the Christian life as a stadium rock show on super-spiritual ecstasy in an ever-energetic mosh-pit.
This picture of the Christian life is admittedly attractive to an unbelieving world, but I am convinced that the objective of our lives is not to make the Christian life look attractive.
If we honestly asked 'what would Jesus do?' we would see that He, once and for all time, did the most unattractive and grotesque thing to bring the most glorious good news to His people.
An example of sacrifice
Jesus was willingly led as a lamb to the slaughter, shredded alive by men and smitten by God. This was a fate more repulsive than you can imagine.
The eye witnesses detailed the terrifying earthquake and darkness that fell over the land in the middle of the day as Jesus breathed his last. But nature's groaning was no comparison to the pain Jesus would have felt as his bones dislocated, organs failed, and lungs collapsed.
Jesus, fully man and fully God, died gruesomely on a cross so that you and I could receive His perfect life as if you had lived it. To 'be Jesus'to someone does not mean to act self-righteously or be constantly happy with no struggles, in fact, in some cases it literally means to die for someone.
A life that shows the gospel
If however, by God's grace, you are not called to die for someone or something as Jesus did, how then can your life show the gospel and witness to the world around you?
Your life will not ultimately be a good witness if it points only to you. No matter how hard we try, we will always fail to reflect the insurmountable glory of God. If your message to the world is one of self-help enrichment, an endless to-do list, or a longing for happiness as your ultimate goal, you will not have been a faithful Christian witness.
Christ offers Himself in unconditional love to those who know they could never live up to God's holy law, and instead come broken to Him. God knows that His children are rebellious and narcissistic. He knows that we are so caught up in our own little lives that we don't notice our brother in need, let alone the Creator of the Universe himself.
What Jesus has already done
To be a good witness doesn't end at helping our brother in need, which does offer a small glimpse of the sacrificial love Christ bore for us. Being a good witness has its roots, means, and ends all in the person of Christ.
A hardened heart may soften with your moment of kindness, but Christ's grace alone can wholly melt the heart of stone.
Why ask yourself 'what would Jesus do?', and proceed to live out your own answer to the question, when you could be dwelling on what He has already done.
To witness to a world who doesn't know Jesus, forget your life and point to Him who gives eternal life. Don't 'be Jesus'to someone when Jesus can be Himself more majestically and experientially than you.
To be a good Christian witness, let Christ's life, death and resurrection be all.
Harriet Knox is a new wife living in windy Wellington, New Zealand. She works for the Government, loves animals, and cannot function well without a gym membership. She became a Christian at University and attends Gracenet Community Church.
Harriet Knox's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/harriet-campbell.html