Impressions

I was minding my own business, just sitting at a red light, getting ready to enjoy a cup of coffee from Starbucks, when WHAM! Something hit me. My whole car lurched forward. I hit the head rest. And my coffee went everywhere. The person who hit me just wasn’t paying attention. No one was hurt, but my bumper has a permanent dent shaped like a Husker’s vanity plate.

I had to take pictures for my insurance claim, and I just couldn’t help but marvel at the perfectly license-plate-shaped dent. I guess you can say the guy who hit me made an impression. And that’s what I got to thinking about this morning. We all have one chance to make an impression on people, whether we meet them over the phone or over email or in person. First impressions are powerful and deep, and it takes a lot to overcome a bad first impression. But how often do we pay attention to that? How often do we think about it?

Imprint of a Husker's vanity plate in my bumper - Wichita, KS

Imprint of a Husker’s vanity plate in my bumper – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 5:20.

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Being a Christian is more than just saying you believe in Christ. It’s more than just a title or a label. It’s a huge responsibility. You know what an ambassador is, right?

Ambassadors are people who represent another country in a foreign land. As Christ’s ambassadors, we Christians represent Jesus to people who don’t know Him. Have you thought about that? Do you ever think about that? Do you ever ask yourself if you think you are representing Jesus the way He would want to be represented?

Here is the verse in context (verses 18 – 21):

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

So many times I think Christians get caught up in the thought that we are here to show other people how to live. Am I wrong? We think we’re here to change our culture and to get the “right” candidate elected by whatever means necessary and to make sure other churches are behaving the way churches should behave. But that’s not our purpose.

Our purpose is reconciling people with Christ.

As Christ’s ambassadors we are responsible to portray Jesus and Jesus’ message to the world. How are we doing along those lines? What do you think?

Granted, the world hates the message because they hate Christ, and they hate us too. Just remember that they hated Jesus first. But just because people hate Christ and hate us and hate the Bible doesn’t make it wrong. It just makes them hateful.

Don’t be hateful back.

If there was one thing Jesus never was, it was hateful. When people lied about Him and said horrible things about Him and His family, He loved them in return. When people used Him and manipulated Him and tried to lure Him into traps, He communicated truth in a loving way. When people hurt Him and beat Him and falsely accused Him, He asked God to forgive them. When people hated Him, He loved them in return.

That is the Jesus you are representing if you say you are a Christian.

And if you say you are a Christian, why are posting hateful things on the internet? If you say you are a Christian, why do you participate in events that are designed to smear people or injure their reputations? If it’s not something that Jesus would be doing, why are you doing it? And how can you call yourself a Christian if you choose to do something you know is against Christ?

If you believe in Jesus, you are His representative. It’s your responsibility to show people who He is through your actions and your words and your life.

No matter what you do or where you go or what kind of day you’re having, keep it in the back of your mind that it’s up to you to make a good first impression.

You can mend a bad first impression. It can be done. Like my bumper, that dent can be fixed. But it’s going to take time and effort and a lot a money. And as much as I would like to think that the person who hit me is a careful driver, I’m afraid to say He hasn’t convinced me of it by our first meeting.

How do you represent Christ? Do peoples’ first impressions of Him stem from your hate? No, you’re not responsible for their choices, but if you introduce them to a Jesus who hates people, is it any wonder they don’t want anything to do with Him?

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