You know, guys, it really does matter what our professed life in relationship to Christ looks like to those outside. An earlier paraphrase says it well: “As, therefore, God’s picked representatives of the new humanity, purified and beloved of God himself, be merciful in action, kindly in heart, humble in mind. Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive …” (J. B. Phillips on Colossians 3:12). This is a consistent theme from Jesus through all the New Testament writings. We are called to be God’s New Creation people, his new humanity, and that is most convincingly communicated by our behavior.

Which raises the compelling question: What practical difference does your trust in / relationship to Jesus Christ make? How do you conceive of, and nurture your calling by Jesus Christ to be a dynamic part of his message and mission in the 24/7 vicissitudes of your life? How does it determine the caliber of your daily work and responsibilities and relationship to others? It’s quite too easy (and too common) to mouth-off about being a disciple of Jesus, or of being born again—but that’s not our calling. We are called to demonstrate by our love and good works that we related to him, and if others ask us: What makes us tick? Behave as we do? … then we are called to give them a thoughtful and sensitive answer.

Those who are still outside of the family of God can hardly escape the examples of warm hospitality, or helpful kindnesses. I love the comment made about the Irish poet Seamus Heaney after his death, that he was so influential because of his warmth, humor, caring and courtesy. (I wrote that into my prayer journal.) But it’s not only in the interpersonal relationships of love and good works, but in the totality of life, … in our stewardship of the environment, in our quest for justice, peace-making, and humanitarian sensitivity in the larger social and political scene.

To be candid, going to multiple church meetings can be essentially meaningless, even a distraction, if those same church meetings to not at the same time re-energize us, equip us afresh, and encourage us in that calling to our calling to be God’s new humanity as we live out his message and mission.

Such a calling also is a calling to know how to relate, as God’s new humanity, to ‘real sinners,’ to difficult co-workers, to the unlikely and unlikeable … whom Jesus came to seek and to rescue. In the accounts of the early church in Jerusalem, the message and the healing made real in Christ, caused the local populace to come and to bring the sick to a place where the very shadow of Peter might fall on them and bring healing. I would like to think, and so I pray, that the authenticity of my new humanity in Christ might be a healing and reconciling influence wherever I went, and on whoever I engaged in personal relationships. I want to be a healer and a reconciler in the midst of a tragically estranged and often destructive context.

Our cultural atmosphere is probably polluted with too much unconvincing religious talk, when what it really needs would be a whole lot more (as someone designated them) ‘little Christs,’ i.e. those living and present incarnations of God’s new humanity. … And it begins with you and me. Go for it!


[And if these Blogs are helpful to you, recommend them to your friends. Thanks.]


About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Ann Rose says:

    I love the way you summed up and reminded us of how important it is to live out the Gospel in kindness, love, and gentleness. That’s more of a challenge in today’s often angry, divided, accusatory world – very different atmosphere from that of much of my younger years. It’s easy to become part of the reactionary, judgmental tone around us. Thanks for your very focused, clear reflection today.

  2. Joy Fors says:

    I was really reminded of what is important in my walk with Jesus the Christ in your very well written post today. I often struggle with various and sometimes volatile
    emotions in the political realm of today’s culture. However, when I take time to realize what is REALLY important I am calmed and know that to be a follower of Christ will be best served by a humble spirit and kindness in my relationships with family, friends and of course strangers. Thank you for reminding me often about what really matters and should come first to me as a Christ follower.

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