Many people around me are not shy about clearly identifying what they support. Just by glancing at people as I walk past them, the logos emblazoned on their caps and jackets tell me what sports teams, musical groups, or fictional characters that they like. Some people even advertise the clothing brands that they purchase, through the company’s logos. (That’s a pretty good deal for these brands – getting customers to pay to advertise for them!)
The other day, I came across a different translation of a verse that I had read or heard in the past:
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17 NLT
Normally, I think of this verse as talking about doing things “in the name of” Jesus, but that’s not a phrase that we hear very often these days (especially outside of church). However, I can relate to being a “representative” pretty well, though.
- When a manager can’t come to a meeting at work, I understand the idea of him or her sending a delegate (or representative) to listen and contribute to the agenda.
- In the government of my country, elected officials represent their constituents. (How well individual representatives achieve this is a matter of debate, but let’s focus on the design of the system, here.)
- I can spot representatives of a particular organization when they pull up in my driveway, both when their truck has the company logo on the side, and when they come to my front door with a uniform and hat that each bear a matching logo.
So, if we are following Jesus, and take this matter seriously, we are called to represent Him in our everyday actions. As this verse (and many others in the Bible) shows us, accepting Jesus as our Lord and our Savior isn’t just a box to be checked or a label to carry. Instead, we are called upon to live as visible representatives of Jesus Himself.
How do we actually do that?
- For one thing, our role is to do a lot of the same things that Jesus did while He was on earth. We aren’t personally righteous enough (on our own merits) to die for the sins of the world, but we can teach people, help care for their needs, show God’s love, and explain how much He wants to bring everyone into His family. Some people talk about this as being “Jesus’ hands and feet”, and that’s a good image. It’s continuing His work. Like a manager sending a delegate to a meeting, each of us is placed in certain situations where we can contribute to of the Kingdom of God as a representative of Jesus.
- We are also responsible for supporting the interests of Jesus, since we represent Him. Just as an elected official who acts contrary to the wishes of voters can (should?) expect to be kicked out of office at the next election, we should consider whether or not we are doing what we were called to do. Like a representative in government, if we are not doing the will of Jesus (who we represent), we can expect to be held accountable.
- Finally, we are a public representation of Jesus’ kingdom. As “Christians”, we may as well be driving around in a van with Jesus’ name on the side, and wearing a uniform that has Jesus’ name on both the jacket and the hat. (As a side thought: I’m not sure if Jesus has a logo, but if He does, I’m sure that it’s awesome!)
These are just reminders, though. If we just try to make ourselves represent Jesus through sheer force of will, we will likely fall short. The “secret” to living in Jesus’ name is a combination of humility (being willing to let Him direct our paths) and acceptance (letting Him give us what we need to achieve that goal).
So, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, take up His name proudly, and – with His help – be the best representative of His kingdom that you can be.