“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matthew 11:3 (NIV)Posted December 8th, 2009
by Rich Carlson
John the Baptist was in prison, and he asked his disciples to go ask Jesus if He was, in fact, the Messiah or if they should continue searching. I love Jesus’ answer. No great theological discourse. Just, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard" (Luke 7:22). That’s all.
I pondered the application of this gospel entry to my life and this is what I came up with: Suppose someone was trying to decide if he or she wanted to become a Christian. She sets out to find a Christian. She had heard that Pastor Rich was a Christian so she decided to take the direct approach and just find me and ask me—"So, Pastor Rich, are you a Christian or should I keep looking for someone who is?" I wonder if I could answer as simply and clearly as Jesus did and say, "Watch me." That’s all; just watch me.
Now I am not implying that to answer that question I have to have everything perfectly worked out in my life, because that will never happen for me (or I doubt for you)! But being a Christian for me is not about perfection in behavior. It is about a journey toward honesty with God about who I am and what Jesus is in my life.
For Jesus, when asked by John’s disciples if He was the Messiah, He just said, look at all the things I am doing to show that I am from God. For me, when asked by anyone if I am a Christian, I want to be able to offer them my life as a living testimony of the goodness, forgiveness, mercy, love, and faithfulness of God. I want them to see the impact He has made in my life. I want them to see peace, contentment, purpose, focus. I want them to see specific intentional guidance and direction for how to responsively and responsibly live my life for Him.
"Just watch me, and then you decide if you’ve found a Christian yet." I wonder if I could give that kind of answer.
I think the greatest witness to an unbelieving world is the evidence that God has indeed made a difference in my life. Just watch me—watch for inner evidence that God’s gifts of life, love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, and mercy have not been wasted. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to say, "If you can’t see Jesus right now, just look at me and see what great things He’s doing for me?" It should be evident; it should be convincing. I hope it is.
Rich Carlson is campus chaplain at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. “God Is Faithful” is adapted from the email devotionals he writes regularly for the Union College family. Rich enjoys filling his life with God, his family, and especially his five grandchildren.