It seems to me we travel through life generally seeking our own self-interests. When we consider what kind of impression we want to leave with people, we naturally want to leave a positive impression of ourselves. Now, that’s not all bad. Nobody wants to spend time with someone who leaves them with a bad impression with every encounter. But who are we promoting? Ourselves? Is life really about the persistent shameless pursuit of self-promotion? For Jesus-followers, the question hits close to home. Do we strive to leave people with an impression of ourselves, or with an impression of Jesus?
Getting Out in Front
The image of Peter being rebuked by Jesus in Matthew 16 still gets me. Peter didn’t want Jesus to go to Jerusalem and suffer the way he predicted, so Peter rebuked Jesus. Jesus replied by saying, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Wow. Peter got out in front of Jesus and that didn’t go well. That’s why Jesus told him to get behind him and follow. And as for the name calling, Jesus does tell us that “He who is not with me is against me.” Who is more against Jesus than Satan… and in that moment, Peter? So, when thinking of what impression we want to leave with people, let’s first make sure we don’t get out in front of Jesus. The last thing we Jesus-followers need to do is leave Jesus behind!
Leaving Jesus Behind
So, let’s leave Jesus behind in a good way! Jesus leads us into all sorts of interactions where we have the opportunity to leave an impression. Rather than strive to leave an impression of ourselves, let’s strive to leave an impression of Jesus. Yes, leave Jesus behind. How? Well, God’s given you grace to believe in him and has forgiven you all your sins. Always keep that awesome truth in the front of your mind and ready on your tongue. Then listen to what Jesus has taught us and strive to live that way. Love your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Be humble, content and radically others-focused. Be salt and light (Mat. 5:13-16). Trust me, we stand out in a crowd when we really live the way Jesus teaches us! Do this and you’ll leave an impression that speaks less of yourself and more of the one whom we follow.
Words and Deeds
Leaving Jesus behind in people is a great way to approach our everyday encounters. I have noticed that since I started thinking this way, I end up being more intentional about my behavior and often end up having great conversations about Jesus! I just let Jesus’ teachings guide the way. Sometimes the situation isn’t right to bring up Jesus verbally. That’s ok. Just make sure you leave Jesus behind through the way you conduct yourself. Hopefully the day will come when you can talk about Jesus too, and when you do, you won’t be starting from scratch… you had been leaving Jesus behind for a while through your actions! When someone realizes that they have been watching you live what you believe, it’s a powerful witness.
I think it’s also important to leave Jesus behind in our conversations with other believers. I know some of us struggle to talk about our faith, but we all have Jesus in common! Let’s encourage each other and leave Jesus behind whenever we get together. When we struggle with life’s issues, let’s go to him in prayer, listen to him together, follow him together, and together leave Jesus behind wherever we go. So, Jesus-follower, where are you going to leave Jesus behind today?
Blessings, Pastor Seabaugh