A little blonde-haired boy came home one day from kindergarten. He was holding in his hands a picture he had drawn but was reluctant to show it to his Mother. "Please let me see it," she asked. When he handed her the paper, she looked at a crayon drawing of a stick-figure of a smiling boy with yellow hair. "Why, this is wonderful," she said. "Is it a picture of you?" With a dejected frown he looked up at her and said, "They told us to draw a picture of ourselves. But without a mirror, I ended up drawing a total stranger!"
When it comes to our walk with God, sometimes it's a good idea to stop and look into a mirror. Whose reflection do we see? Or more importantly, who does the rest of the world see? Exactly what should be the features of someone who loves Jesus? Eyes filled with compassion… or hooded in judgment. A bowed head… or an elevated chin. An open heart… or a closed mind.
The apostle Paul encourages us to pause long enough to check our reflection…
"Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you." 2 Corinthians 13:5 (MSG)
Give yourselves regular checkups. Is Jesus seen in you? In San Antonio, Texas, there stands the remains of a former Spanish mission turned military fort called, "The Alamo." This was the site where, in 1836, approximately 200 men lost their lives while defending the fort and fighting for freedom from Mexican rule. On a wall near its main entrance there's a portrait with the following inscription:
"James Butler Bonham ~ no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom."
And so it is with us. While there is no literal portrait of Jesus, you and I are living reflections of Him. It is in our flesh and blood where His Spirit resides. And just in case we need a reminder of what Jesus truly looks like, we need look no further than those who actually knew Him…
Matthew records that when confronted with the leprous man, Jesus was "moved with compassion." John reveals that at the tremendous grief of His friends, "Jesus wept." And Mark explained how Jesus "took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them."
But just in case we're tempted to use only pastel colours in our portrait of Jesus, Paul fills in the shading with the depth and strength in His character.
"Christ is not weak ... He is a mighty power among you. Although He died on the Cross in weakness, He now lives by the mighty power of God. We, too, are weak, but we live in Him and have God's power..." 2 Corinthians 13:3, 4 (MSG)
Compassion… tenderness… mighty… powerful. The colours that make up the character of Jesus are more varied than we can comprehend. The same heart that tenderly created the delicate velvety petal of a rose is the very one that stormed the gates of Hell with Heaven's redemption. And even though our faith may sometimes feel one-dimensional, the depth and breadth of God's power compels us to go deeper.
When we truly reflect the image of Jesus, there will be no mistaking the portrait the world will see. As His life daily becomes more evident in us, we no longer look like a "total stranger." Our very lives will witness of His Presence.
And we will bear a striking family resemblance to the greatest One of all.