MAKE VISIBLE THE INVISIBLE CHRIST
M. J. Jacob
I remember attending a leaders' meet five decades ago in the Bishop Heber School, Tiruchirapalli. The resource person was Rev. Chandapilla, the then General Secretary of the UESI (Union of Evangelical Students, India). At the outset, Chandapilla asked us to write on a paper the answer to the question, "What is the purpose of my life?" In my fading memory, I think, I wrote, "The purpose of my life is to please God." Today, if the same question is put to me, I will answer, "The purpose of my life is to make visible the invisible Christ."If each and every believer has this purpose as his vision and mission in life, what a different world ours would be! Paul who met the invisible Christ on the Damascus road had the purpose in his life suddenly shifted to make visible the invisible Christ. Paul wanted to make known the hidden treasures of the invisible God all around. "Woe to me if I preach not the Gospel." Joshua had this purpose in life. Joshua said, "All the people shall know our God is the mighty one" (Josh.4:24). The Psalmist expressed his purpose in life," Now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, forsake me not until I have passed Thy strength unto this generation and Thy power to everyone that is to come" (Psa.71:18). Our Lord's purpose was to make visible the Eternal God. In His High Priestly prayer, Jesus prayed, "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent" (Jn.17:3).
How are we to make visible the invisible Christ? Like Paul, all those who have seen Christ has a hunger to tell it out. As followers of Christ, we cannot keep silent. We who have seen and tasted His love and power, we who had the vision of the invisible Christ, there is a compulsion in us to share with others the inestimable love of Christ. And we are all in one way or another involved in this ministry: pastoral ministry, reaching, sharing the good news through literature, audio, video, healing ministries, humanitarian services and many other spheres of work for the Lord. With all these ministries in hand, there is a perplexing question, "Why are we not able to make an impact on the non-Christian world? Why we Indian Christians are not able to win India for Christ?" One thing is lacking. We have failed to make Christ visible through our life witness, the reflection of Jesus in our lives. When we live our lives wholly for Christ, we will be able to make Christ visible to non-believers.
We have to confess we have neglected the ministry of life witness. If each and every follower of Christ lives Christ-like lives, we can easily win India for Christ. We Christians have become self-possessive-my wife, my husband, my family-and we are not willing to get out of our comfort zone to make visible the invisible Christ. Do our friends and those who work along with us in our offices and work spots see Christ-likeness in our lives? By our kindly deeds, cheering words, by our willingness to walk an extra mile, we reflect the radiance of our Master in our lives. Christ-likeness is God's purpose for every one of us. How is it possible? If we look at the saints of God, we will be able to know that they were all men and women of prayer, spending time alone with God. Communion with God makes a radiance on our faces which others take note of. Our Lord had the reflection of God on His face. Spending long hours with His Father had its effect on His facial appearance. In the present computerised world, we find many people neglecting a quiet time with the Lord. Our computer, our TV, our mobile, all make us busy with the material world. The more time we spend with Christ, the more will we be changed into the likeness of Christ. John Walker says, "Fullness of spiritual life is characteristic of the real sons of God, and they are being led by the Spirit of God day by day. It is life of co-partnership with Christ." The Psalmist says, "They looked unto Him and their faces were radiant." A radiant Christian will make visible the invisible Christ. As we commune with our Lord, the life of our Saviour flows into our lives and as we go into the world, it flows out from us. Thereby we can encourage others and point them to Christ.
It is told of St. Francis Xavier that he used to take a walk on his street daily for a short time. As he passed by, the neighbours peeped out of their windows and they could see the glimpse of Jesus Christ on his face. The invisible God makes Himself visible to His children through communion and quiet times. We in turn make Christ visible to the outside world by our Christ-like life.
It was said of Chesterfield, the heartless dandy, that he said upon his return from visiting Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambria, "If I had stayed another day in his presence, I am afraid I would have had to become a Christian. His spirit was so pure, so attractive and beautiful" (Springs In The Valley). The secret of Christ-likeness in Fenelon was that he spent long hours with the Lord.
Mrs. Charles Cowman recalls the gracious personality of Dr. F. B. Meyer. When he had finished his course, he was 82 years old, and it was said that to the end, he worked with the fullness of energy of a man who had found the sabbatical quiet of a ripe old age, not in idleness, but in restful fellowship with God. His face, as the years passed, seemed to grow more beautiful, as the sorrows of this world and the peace of God, which were both his daily possession, shaped and refined his features. He was of the stuff that prejudices men in favour of Jesus Christ, his Lord. He was evergreen. "Lovely faces mark the men who walk and talk with God."
Calm Hour With God
The wife of Dr. Andrew Bonar was led to the Lord by the saintly McCheyne, whose life has been an inspiration to multitudes. Mrs. Bonar always said, "It was not his matter or his manner that impressed me, but it was just the living epistle of Christ, a picture so lovely that I would have given to the world to be such as he is." A minister in North of England met McCheyne and was in his presence for some time. He said he went into his room to weep and pray and give himself to God. McCheyne's secret was in what he himself has said. "A calm hour with God is worth a whole life-time with man."
Sadhu Sunder Singh had the vision of the invisible Christ. His main purpose in life was to make Christ visible to the world. He radiated the love of God by his Christ-like life. His face shone brightly as he communed with God. He spent long hours, even several months in the Himalayas, communing with Jesus whom his spirit yearned for. Those who have seen him have testified that there was always an aura round about his face, which had the reflection of Jesus. Once, Sadhu spent a few days in his friend's home, during his visit to England. He loved the children in that home, and even played the elephant game with them. The children were delighted. After a few days, Sadhu had to leave for another station, very early in the morning. The children missed him at the breakfast table. The little girl asked, "Mummy, where is Jesus Christ?" The little one thought it was Jesus who stayed and played with them for a few days.
The purpose of God in sending His beloved Son into this world was to make visible the invisible God, to let people know His inestimable love to mankind through His Son. Jesus fully knew God's mind and revealed to the world the invisible God by His life and ministry and finally by the cruel death on the cross and then conquered death and seated on the right hand of the Father. How marvellous God's purpose is! Should we not make this our purpose too, to make Christ visible all around? And for this purpose to be accomplished, we have to lead a life of communion with God as our Master did. What is the purpose of my life? Our Lord rejoices when He sees a man or woman, a boy or a girl, who long to make Him visible to those around by living Christ-like lives. We can also live the life that counts, if we take the first step to have communion with our blessed Redeemer.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone
By looking to Jesus like Him Thou shalt be
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.