Community of the Kingdom: The "Look" of Jesus
Have you ever wondered what a Christian looks like? Recently this question was posed to me. It caught me off guard so I responded with a few superficial answers. Yet I was dissatisfied with my responses so I turned to the Scripture to help in determine what a Christian looks like.
The proper place to begin, is to find out what the Savior looked like. As I read through the Gospels seeking an answer to my question I began to notice a certain look over and over again. At the center of the Gospels is the remarkable compassionate love of Jesus. It is in plain view, yet we sometimes do miss it.
I read John's reflections on Christ's mission as being about saving, not condemnation (John 3.17). The Master's compassion for one caught in the very act of a capital "crime" is almost shocking (John 8). I noticed Jesus using the image of the Good Shepherd who gives himself in service to others (John 10.10-11). Luke told me that Jesus explained his whole purpose for living included the goals of freedom, healing and releasing the oppressed (Luke 4.18-19).
My journey through the Gospels revealed the Master gripped with compassion as he saw people as helpless sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9.36). His heart ached when he saw the sick (Matt. 14.14) and he literally broke down at the death of a friend (John 11.35). His love was aroused for two blind men outside the ancient city of Jericho (Matt. 20.34). The masses of men, women and children hungry moved him deeply (Matt. 15.32). When a lady experienced the tragedy of death in her family, we read that Jesus' "heart went out to her." I noticed that Jesus was even willing to risk the censure of the church folks in order to "do good" (Luke 6.6-11).
As I continued to read through the Gospels wondering "what does a Christian look like" I came across these words from the Messiah's lips "love one another as I have loved you. By THIS everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13.34-35). I dawned on me that the "look" or "mark" of a Christian was none other than the "look" or "mark" of Jesus himself. What Jesus looked like was compassion pure and simple. Compassionate love! That is the answer to my question. Christians, real Christians, will have the look of Jesus. Jesus said that his look, the look of love, will be the mark of all Christians.
The community of the kingdom of God is filled with little Christ's filled with and moved by compassionate love. Herein is heart of the Christian ... and the Church.