Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I shouldn't have made those cookies...

"Do you know the problem with a clean kitchen?"

"Um, no ..." I replied. I couldn't imagine how it could be a problem having a clean kitchen.

My girlfriend on the phone continued, "Well, it’s because the kitchen’s so clean it makes me want to bake, and so I've already made two batches of cookies."

"And the problem with that would be ...?" I queried.

"All those cookies are not going to help me lose any weight!"

Ah, that perennial striving, to lose just "ten more pounds"! And though I share her dilemma, I told her I'd be happy to come over and enjoy the cookies with her! For my friend, what had seemed like a great thing at the time now led to a few unexpected ramifications once the flour had been cleared off the counter.

Regrets: Some are pretty harmless, like a few extra calories, but others could have eternal implications. And this week I found myself facing that very problem.

There's a new young teacher at the school this year and … let's just say her lack of experience is often evident. At the beginning of the year my son, who lacks organizational skills, was consistently not turning in his assignments. Her response was to say that maybe he really shouldn't be in this school (a regional gifted center). In that he's gone on to represent the entire region in a city-wide math competition, I had good reason to disagree with her assessment, but I didn't say anything to her. But this week when we were corresponding about my daughter and her organizational issues, she made another insinuation. This time those words made the mama bear in me come to life, and my fingers were fast and furious over the keyboard in a response to her email.

But then I remembered the words I'd read that morning, "And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17 NLT). My fingers stopped, and I read back over what I'd typed. Okay, it wasn't very nice.

I rationalized, "It doesn't matter. She doesn't know I'm a Christian." But then in my heart I heard the question, "Does that make a difference?"

Holding down the backspace button, I watched as, a letter at a time, my lines of text disappeared, and with fresh white space I started my response again, as a representative of the Lord Jesus.

I remember the first time I expected that of someone, to act like a representative of Christ. I was a young teen with my first job at the Pembine Drive Inn—northern Wisconsin's version of fast food. A priest came in. Being raised Protestant, I hadn't seen many men in collars, but instantly I expected him to act differently from others. His clothing proclaimed loud and clear that he was connected to God as clergy. What if the same were true of us? What if we, who claim to be followers of Christ, wore something that made our faith public? Would we change the way we act? Or react?

I hope we would say "yes" … and, then again, I hope we would say "no" …

I would hope that we answer “yes” because we have the desire to live in such a way as to bring honor to God, and yet I'd also like to hope that we are already living our lives in a way that positively represents the Lord, because it's not just a good idea—it's what God has asked of us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

No matter who you are, what you do, what you look like, what your situation is, or who you come in contact with, you are a representative of the Lord Jesus. As someone has said, "You may be the only Bible that some people ever read."

May the things we say and do accurately reflect His heart and may we practice all throughout the week these words we sing in church on Sunday:

"It's all about You, Jesus. And all this is for You, for Your glory and Your fame.
It's not about me, as if You should do things my way.
You alone are God and I surrender to Your ways."

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