Let not those who wait for You, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed because of me; Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)
God’s plans and purposes are truly, remarkably perfect. Consider for a moment Christ’s words to His disciples as He explained that He needed to go away so that the Holy Spirit could come in His place. The magnitude of this is beyond comprehension. Christ, during His time on earth, was restricted by physical limitations. He could only be in one place at any given time. The Holy Spirit, however, is able to be in each and every single believer at the same time, uniting them in Christ as the body of Christ – a remarkable truth that transcends time and place.
While Christ on earth was able to teach and minister only to those people in His immediate vicinity, through the Holy Spirit He is now able to reach the entire world at the same time. Each and every single believer, as a member of His body, plays their part in reflecting Christ to others. The moment that we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins the work of Christ in and through us. It is a fundamental purpose of our salvation, and one which is an automatic outworking of our unity in Christ.
This is why today’s verse is so important. Often, we imagine that others are ‘called’ to witness rather than ourselves. We may feel ignorant or inadequate, we may wish to remain ‘anonymous’ in our faith or be comfortable where we are. We may feel that we don’t have what it takes to teach or encourage others, or even lead people to Christ. The truth, however, is that trying to ignore this part of our lives in Christ is rather like imagining that a mirror is going to stop reflecting. It may be dusty, marked or even damaged, but if will reflect – that is what it’s created for.
While each of us have a specific function as a member of the body of Christ, this includes manifesting Christ’s true nature. For whatever reason, God has chosen to work in and through His people. It may be to bring comfort or encouragement, to love the rejected or to minister to those trapped in unsavory lifestyles. It may be to teach or to exhort or to prophesy, or it may be to make the tea or sweep the floors. In all of these things, we should be manifesting Christ to the world and to other Christians.
There’s a familiar saying that we may be the only Bible some people get to read, and this is sadly very true. Our lives may be the only way that some people may see God. We should take care, then, to ensure that how we live, how we behave and how we speak does nothing to drive them away from God. We should take care that who and what we are does not shame Christ or misrepresent Him in any way. We could, without realising it, be the very reason why some turn away from God.
This isn’t about compromise or living to keep others happy – there will always be those who reject Christ and the Gospel message, no matter what we do or say. That is their choice, and there is nothing we can do to change that. This verse refers to those who are seeking, who recognise their need and who are reaching out for help. Christ wants to reach out and touch them, to meet with them, and as His body, we may be the method He chooses to do so. Living in the flesh, or living and speaking thoughtlessly, might well have the opposite effect.
It’s a wonderful gift of grace to have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us, but it’s far more than simply a personal ‘connection’ to Jesus. Yes, the oneness is to teach us, guide us and help us learn and grow. But it’s also to manifest Him to others, to draw others and to reflect His glory. We have an obligation to love others, even our enemies. Jesus commanded this very clearly. That loving includes being the living demonstration of His love in all things – thought, word and deed.
We cannot separate ourselves from this and still expect to be united in Christ. Remember that He loved the world – not just you and I. It’s a universal love, and in receiving it for ourselves we also receive His love for others. The one cannot exclude the other. We, who have been loved so completely, should take care that nothing in us can prevent or dissuade others from receiving as we did.
Yes, God’s plans and purposes are all-encompassing and make provision for every need, every circumstance and every prayer. How easy it is to forget that His plan may include you or I being the answer to someone else’s prayer, or at least the medium He chooses to use to deliver it.