In doing a broad survey of the New Testament; of the many truths that consistently reappear throughout Scripture, one such truth is, “The Believer is to be a Reflection of the Beloved.” We are described as “ambassadors for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20). We are to act as a representative. When we interact with the world we are to emulate his nature, character, and interests. The believer is described as “the epistle of Christ” (II Corinthians 3:3). The word “epistle” means written message or letter. The believer’s life is to be a written letter expressing God’s love and concern for lost humanity. When He was in the world, He declared Himself to be the “light of the world” (John 9:5). Previous to His return to the Father, Jesus transferred that responsibility to the believer, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). The believer is to enlighten the world to the Saviour’s sacrifice for the sins of man. As believers, we are to emulate to the world His person, express to the world His purity, and enlighten the world to His purpose; “The Believer is to be a Reflection of the Beloved!” While that is to be our objective, “It’s Not Always Easy.” When speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20). While it is not always easy, the believer is to be a reflection of the beloved!
(I) It’s Difficult When You’ve Been Wronged – I Corinthians 6:7
In I Corinthians 6, Paul describes a situation within the body of Christ in which believers are at odds with one another and have openly taken the dispute before a world that is void of spiritual discernment. Viewing the situation, Paul describes it as a “shame.” Their activities have generated confusion and weakened their witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul approached the situation, other than saying that a brother has been wronged, Paul does not address the perpetrator or the problem! Paul’s solution does not deal with the offender, but rather the offended, “Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (I Corinthians 6:7). As the one offended, you may be in the right, but if you were to act in a righteous manner, you would allow yourself to be defrauded or cheated. Remember, that your Lord was also wronged; “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). It was His own people that would reject Him and ultimately cry for His blood. Speaking of His response, Peter said, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (I Peter 2:23). Paul wants the saints to understand that it is not about being right, it’s about being righteous!
(II) It’s Difficult When You’ve Been Wounded – Luke 6:29
The mentality of the world is “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38). For ever blow you receive, you respond with equal force! For every injustice that causes you pain, you respond in a manner that generates pain equal to or greater than that you received. This is the law of the land! While it may be the law of the land, it does not reveal the love of the Lord! The world, the flesh, and the devil says, get even, but not Jesus; “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). Speaking of our Lord, Isaiah said, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Mocked, spit upon, beaten, nailed to a cross; the complete picture of absolute injustice; Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). If the believer is to reflect the beloved, it means, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).
(III) It’s Difficult When You’ve Been Worked – Matthew 5:41
Oppressed by the superior power of Rome, the Jewish people were in servitude to the institutions of Rome. One such means of forced labor was that every Jewish lad was required, when asked, to carry the pack of a Roman soldier for one full mile. Having completed the unwanted and unwelcome task, the oppressed could cast the load upon the ground in a spirit of rebellion. So as not to do any more than the law demanded, there were stone monuments erected exactly one mile outside the city limits; this was where their work ceased! While this would release them from the letter of the law, it didn’t reflect the love of the Lord. Jesus said, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:41-44).
Being a radiant Christian might be easy if we lived in an ideal world where there was no pain, sorrow, sickness, or sin. While that may have been the way it was in the garden before the fall; that’s not how it is now! Everyone doesn’t love God or the people of God. In fact, you will discover that it is easier to be redeemed by Christ than to be a representative of Christ in this present world! It’s not enough to be a reflection of the beloved in the good times. As believers, we are encouraged to have a Christ-like spirit even in those times when we have been wronged, wounded, and worked. While it may not be easy, it can be done; not in the flesh, but in faith. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).Testifying of the sufficiency of the indwelling Christ, John said,“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). It’s not always easy, but we can be a reflection of the beloved!