The Black Eyes of Jesus

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. As Scripture says, “God’s name is cursed among the nations because of you.” Romans 2:24 GW

I am back at least for today. Life has been good for me recently. I am thankful for feeling better than I have in the last two years. My mobility is getting better, certainly facilitated by my weight loss over the last six months. I am currently teaching my first online course through Colorado Christian University in the nonprofit management program.

As I began reading through Romans, the verse above jumped out at me. I believe I have written about this topic and verse before, but perhaps it bears some repetition. My pastor mentor James Majeske is the one who I recall speaking about the “black eyes of Jesus.” The comment was related to the fact that when those who identify with Christ, don’t live like Christ, it is Jesus who often suffers the blow.

Individuals will emotionally respond to the observed hypocrisy and conclude that it doesn’t make any difference whether one is a Christ follower or not. Regardless of the fact that perfection is not required to be a Christian, still there should be a difference in the life of those who claim Christ and those who do not.

What we observe in Romans 2 relates to the old adage about, “walking the talk.” In other words, just don’t talk about the Christian life, live the Christian life.

Paul is addressing Jewish people and their ardent adherence and belief in the standards of the law when he asks these probing questions,  As you teach others, are you failing to teach yourself? As you preach against stealing, are you stealing? As you tell others not to commit adultery, are you committing adultery? As you treat idols with disgust, are you robbing temples? As you brag about the laws in Moses’ Teachings, are you dishonoring God by ignoring those laws? (Romans 2:21-23 GW)

We can certainly ask similar and the same questions about our lives today. Are we continuing to be students of God’s Word or resting on our heritage or lessons from the past? Are we who believe that God is love, demonstrating love for others? Are we who take confidence in God’s forgiveness, willing to forgive others? Are we who believe that God is a God of peace and unity, creating strife and division in our church or family?

We may not like it, but the world is watching. Watching not just for an occasion to condemn but watching because they want to believe and see a life that is lived above the emptiness found in worldly pursuits.

Pastor and author Matt Herd, was explaining to men at a recent retreat about the difference between “longings” and “pursuits.” Longings are God-given desires in the heart of every individual. Pursuits are those activities that are intended to fulfill those longings. Only life in Christ and living by the principles of God’s Word are those true longings met.

When Christ-followers reveal a life where our longings are fulfilled through the abundant life of Christ, we are a witness to others around us. When we follow what the world says above what the Word says, Jesus gets a black eye.