A few years ago Kathleen Harris wrote the song “You are the only Jesus some will ever see.” In many ways, she and a few others singing the song over the years have made the phrase very popular in Christian circles. Take a look at a few lines in the song:
If not you, I wonder where will they ever find the One who really cares?
If not you, how will they find the One who heals the broken heart, gives sight to the blind?
If not you, I wonder who, will show them love, and love alone can make things new?
If not you, how will they learn there’s one who’ll trade their hopelessness for joy in return?
Cause You’re the only Jesus some will ever see You’re the only words of life, some will ever read So let them see in you the One in whom is all they’ll ever need You’re the only Jesus, some will ever see
I’m sure you would agree with me that this is a great song, but are there biblical grounds for such lyrics? Is it possible to fill such a role in God’s redemptive agenda? Could our lives ever sufficiently show God’s redemptive work to the point for others to take notice and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus? Does the way we live as Christians have any part to play in God’s strategy of gospel proclamation?
Apparently, many today do not think that the idea of being “the only Jesus some will ever see” is possible or even biblical, to say the least. They contend that people come to faith in Jesus only through the proclamation of the gospel. Others claim that since we are too sinful, just a perfect Jesus can draw anyone to himself. And of course, it is the work of the Spirit to bring the unbeliever, not ours.
While they are not entirely wrong, it is clear that they’ve overlooked a significant aspect of Christian witness.
What happened to Jesus’ call for us to be light of the world? This certainly means that someone could see God’s light shining through us.
What happened to Jesus’ call for us to be salt of the earth? This certainly means someone could positively be affected by our lifestyle. And sadly, negatively impacted.
What happened to Jesus’ call for us to be the city on the hill? This certainly means that someone could see that there is something different about us.
What happened to Antioch’s little Christs? It was in Antioch that people in the city began to notice how different the followers of Jesus were. It was not because of their preaching and teaching. It was their lifestyle that made the difference.
What happened to “follow me as I follow Christ?” I’ve always wondered what in the world Paul meant by “follow me as I follow Christ.” Paul was very careful to live his life in such a way so that others would be able to understand what he was preaching to them.
What happened to 1 Corinthians 9:22? To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
What happened to “written epistles?” Our preaching and proclamation must always match our way of life? Our talk must match our walk for others to take notice. We must walk the walk not just talk the talk.
What happened to Jesus’ high priestly prayer, when he prayed for love and unity among believers? A passion and unity that will cause the world to believe in who he is.
What happened to the local church which the hope of the world? You see, in God’s redemptive plan he “chose the church to be the manifold wisdom of God.”
There are three kinds of people:
1. Those who feel like their lives are so sinful, messed up and weak, and they can do nothing about it.
2. Those who tell others how immoral and messed up they are and what they need to do about it, but won’t lift a finger to do clean up their own life.
3. Those who know that they are not perfect but daily lay down their lives looking for opportunities to allow the of God to shine through them.
I’m tired of hearing the false humility of Christians who in the name of being real speak hopelessly about their inability to represent Jesus adequately. Could it be that we are missing out in our calling? I’m tired of hearing the half-truth about how it doesn’t really depend on us and the transforming work of grace in and through us but only upon the message of Jesus proclaimed. The gospel is not just what you declare, it is also what you live out. It is about us availing our lives to the Holy Spirit and allowing him to work through us. I’m tired as well about the hypocrisy and sinfulness of the church – mine included. Because of our hypocrisy and sinfulness, the way of the truth is maligned, and we give unbelievers all the excuses to reject Christ.
Jesus is calling every one of us today, and he is saying: “Just as the Father sent me, so I’m sending you.” He is asking us to go out and be his hands and feet. He is asking us to go out and “faithfully preach the truth in one hand and with the weapons of righteousness in the other.” He is asking us to go out and heal the sick, raise the dead, stand for justice, fight for the poor. He is asking us to go out and love unconditionally, give selflessly, serve unreservedly. He is not coming down here to do that. He is not asking us to be perfect. He is only asking for us to avail ourselves of him and his Spirit. He is asking us to take this little light of ours and let shine – because we may be the only Jesus some will ever see.