Reflecting the Character of Christ
John Telgren

What makes Jesus stand out to the world? Is it merely that he was a morally upright person? No. There have been other morally upright people that have not stood out in any memorable sort of way over the centuries. Perhaps it was his simple and frugal lifestyle that showed his non-entanglement with the frivolous things of this world. No, there were other people who lived more frugally that even Christ, some even as hermits, and most people have never heard of them. Perhaps it was his spirituality, prayer life, and things of this nature that made him stand out. Once again, there have been other people who spend their entire lives in spiritual practices such as prayer, fasting, and things of this nature. Unless you are a historian, you probably have never heard of these people either. Perhaps it was his signs and wonders. Now there is a lot more to this. Jesus healed sickness and raised people from the dead. He himself raised from the dead. But it was more than the fact that Jesus defied the laws of nature. There were other people who performed "wonders," but are now forgotten. Jesus' signs and wonders were filled with compassion. He didn't performs tricks the way a magician would, but brought instantaneous healing and wholeness to broken people.

The thing that made Jesus stand out was his compassion and mercy. His ministries of compassion reflected the very heart of God. Many believers do not think they could even imitate Jesus' ministries of compassion, but this is simply not true. Most people have heard of Teresa of Calcutta, known affectionately as "Mother Teresa." She had no miracle working abilities, but her humility coupled with her devotion to God and heart for the poor has made a huge impression.

Perhaps ministries of compassion is what Jesus meant when he said,

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in Heaven" (Mt 5:16).

What kind of good works should we do? Jesus provided the example. However, most of the time we think of things such as being moral, honest, upright, and so forth. That is probably the same way Pharisees viewed it. However, Jesus demonstrated this by getting his hands dirty and rubbing shoulders with the broken, downcast, poor, sinners, and the like. Jesus brought holistic healing to those he ministered to. Not only was he concerned about their sins, but about other needs. He fed people, healed them, listened to them, touched them, and blessed them.

According to the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Mt 25:31-46), God's purpose for us is not merely to be morally pure, but to also to be compassionate. God is concerned for the whole person, body, soul, and mind. When we intentionally and purposefully engage in ministries of compassion, then we reflect the very heart of God. This is why Paul instructs,

"Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed" (1 Tim 6:17-19).

Helping others in a holistic way is part of the way we reflect the character of Christ. A lifestyle of caring for other people shines brighter than merely telling people God loves them. Touching people where they hurt and bringing healing has a greater impact than telling them they are sinners and going to Hell. It is about showing the way to hope through the Gospel in the manner that Jesus did.