We Believe in Christ. We Belong to Christ. We Serve Christ.
There is a movie I have watched perhaps 20 times and a book I have read 15 times. You know how it goes. There are things that particularly touch us and speak to our hearts and minds in powerful ways. It may be a poem or a painting, a story or a subject we enjoy; it might even be a favourite restaurant or a place we love to visit. A flower or a hobby, a valued Scripture verse or a beloved prophet—many things deeply connect with our minds and emotions. And all of these treasured things are like a recipe of you, fragments of your identity, portions of who you are, where you are in life, and how God made you to be. All these bits gathered together serve as an expression of our ‘self’, and say something about our person, collecting close to the core of our ‘being’.
Which is why it takes great courage to suggest a movie to others, or recommend a book! Not only because you may have forgotten some indiscreet moment or line which may cause offense, but because they just might not like your selection—and they may be quick to let you know how bad your endorsement was. When something is important to you, and you share it, recommend it, or propose it, it’s a painful thing to find it critiqued or belittled, mocked or devalued. Throwing pearls before swine comes to mind!
When we offer that which means much to us, and it’s not valued or appreciated, a piece of us feels rejected, sometimes cruelly or in jest. Such an experience can feel like a slap in the face or a thumb down to our very existence or a cold shoulder to the warm offering of ‘ourselves’. When we offer a portion of ‘us’ to others, we can expect at times it will be treated like scraps or debris, like litter far inferior to their own valuables.
It takes great risk to be in relationship with people, to offer a ‘piece of you’ to others for their examination and perhaps approval. It’s good to find a number of safe people to live life with, to love you and all that makes you—you! We would and should have people around us who esteem us higher than themselves, whom we can trust with each piece of ourselves, and know that the risk is low to open up and share some slice of self.
People have many pieces and each piece can be a clue to who they are. Some good questions to ask others who may take the risk to offer a portion of themselves to you: Why is this book important to you? Tell me how this flower makes you feel and why! What is it about that movie that reaches deep within your soul? What is there about that restaurant you appreciate so much? Why does that favorite place resonate in your being? What emotions does that music draw out of you? Ask such questions and you may find joy and delight as they even risk serving seconds of themselves, into your care!
As those who are ‘in Christ’ and whose identity is found in union with Him, in His death and resurrection, we sense the risk is getting greater when offering our faith and our Christ, Who is at the very centre of our ‘being’: “For in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28). Our life in Him and our obedience to Him is not intellectually valued and today is even morally spurned—abiding in Christ Jesus is no longer appreciated or admired. And yet we must embrace the risk of speaking what we have seen and heard, of declaring what is an offense to others, of believing and obeying what is foolish and a scandal to them. We trust God to define what is holy and right, and not the world, and we will persist in offering up what is the very key to ourselves, the most precious piece, the ‘fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23), that portion that explains and reveals all we are to others—Jesus Christ Himself. He is the core of our existence, our greatest treasure, the ‘wellspring of our soul’, and for others to know us, they must know of Him.
2 Corinthians 2:15–16 (ESV)
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.