The word Christian means to be “one of Christ’s.” It has also been translated as “little Christs” meaning little copy-cats of Christ. Just so there is no confusion, the Christ we are talking about is Jesus. Christ is a title, not Jesus’ last name. I like both translations myself. They describe what we are to be and to do. We are one of His, and we are to be little copies of Him in action. Not just on Sundays or at Bible studies, but everywhere. We are to be Jesus to each other always and at all times.
I’ve been at this Christian thing for over 20 years and I’m just now figuring out some very basic things as to what it means to be a Christian every moment of every day. I’m a pastor and one might thing, “Duh, of course he has this all figured out.” Oh contraire. What on earth does it mean to be Jesus to each other?
In short, Jesus loved others more than Himself. This means that we all need to be Jesus toward each other in all contexts of life. This is a lifelong process but it has to begin somewhere, and now is the best time. In our marriage, Jess and I have been learning what it means to be Jesus to each other since before we were married. We are still learning what it means. On a simple level it means we serve one another. We think of what the other person would like more than what we would like and we do that thing. For example, Jess likes the Christmas lights on when she gets home, so if they aren’t on I make sure to turn them on. It means we do things for the other person that we don’t like to do, like vacuuming, laundry, cleaning something, etc. When we serve other people it makes them happy, which has the neat effect of making us happy. I get a little thrill when I see Jess happy or relieved about something I’ve done for her. Paul talks about this in Ephesians 5.
A mother and father being Jesus to one another is part of the role of a parent. We serve our kids by providing for them, working for them, cooking, cleaning, clothing, teaching, and giving gifts because we love. When children reach the dreaded teen transition they are at a point where they can learn to genuinely be Jesus toward each other and toward Mom and Dad. Jesus, who was God, served others because He loved. Siblings should love each other and love their parents. The best way to show that, and the best place to learn how to do that outside of the home (like at a job, school, etc.) is by doing it inside the home toward each other and Mom and Dad. That means listening like Jesus would listen, obeying like Jesus would obey, submitting like Jesus would submit, following through like Jesus would follow through, protecting each other like Jesus would protect, being generous like Jesus would be generous. Are you getting the picture? Be Jesus toward others.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be weak or less than what you are. God makes us with strong skills, strong personalities, strong hearts and minds. Those things can be used for Jesus if you let Him shape them into His image. Jesus was a very strong person. Duh, right? I remember when I first interviewed for the yoyo man job and one of the interviewers observed that each of my kids could be strong leaders someday. He said that because they both were stubborn little men. Saul was a very driven man but Jesus needed to change the direction he was driving. Peter could be a very difficult person, but Jesus turned that into a plus for Him.
In our homes, in our families, in our friendships, in our jobs, we are all called to be Jesus toward each other. Like I said, I’m still working on this stuff. It has to be at the front of your mind, not an afterthought. It needs to be on your brain when you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. I want to see all of us look more like Jesus every day. It’s not easy, but it is what He wants for us. Since He wants it for us then it can be done because He will give us the strength to do it.
Jesus loves you, and so do I.
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