FOCUS – The glow of Christ…has many hues

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by Captain Amanda ReardonThe thirty-year-old man kept his head bowed low as he read aloud the essay he had written in tenth grade. The hushed crowd hung onto each word. Rarely does a tenth-grader pen such an articulate essay. But that wasn’t why we sat on the edge of our seats. We were mesmerized, enjoined with the reader in an emotional experience, as he described through his essay how and why he adored his grandfather, Tommy Jackson. He told of a man of such exemplary character that those of us at the Alaskan Congress who had never met him, wished we had.

When Tommy Jackson III wrote the essay, his grandfather was on his deathbed. The boy’s love and devotion poured out of every sentence. Tommy Jackson III saw a strong, clear reflection of Christ in his grandfather. It helped shape him as a man and motivated him to pledge himself to a wholesome life.
I consider myself well and truly blessed because, throughout my life, I have been surrounded by people who reflect Christ. All of them have affected me in one way or another, and some of them have prompted me to evaluate my life and align it with the will of God. The Holy Spirit does not only speak to us through the Word and in prayer, he speaks to us through the vehicle of other people. Sometimes they have something very specific to say to us. Other times, we just watch them glow, and we are changed.

The glow of Christ, however, has many hues, because God shines through the varied personalities of the people who love and serve him. Christ-likeness is not limited in its expression. We do ourselves—and others—a disservice if we link the reflection of Christ to set personality traits. I wasted too many opportunities to experience Christ radiating through others because they didn’t suit my proscribed image of a “holy” person.

What concerns me is that there are many people around us from whom we should be learning godliness and we don’t realize it. They don’t fit into our predetermined molds. We readily find flaws in their personalities and are blinded to strengths in their characters. They may have irritating mannerisms. They may be a bit quirky, or even eccentric. Perhaps there are issues besides personality that cause us to disregard others. For example, perhaps they are undereducated and not well spoken. Perhaps we simply consider ourselves more successful.

In Romans 12:10 it says: “Honor one another above yourselves.” Maybe this is the key to learning from one another. When we look upon another person as someone who deserves our respect, and we “in humility consider others better than (our)selves” (Philippians 2:3), we open our eyes to the godly reflection in other people. I confess that I have sometimes done just the opposite. In moments of arrogance, I have taken it upon myself to judge others. To think that I might be found more worthy than any other person is really quite laughable. But, lest the reader think ill of me, might the reader need to consider his own guilt? Is there anyone among us who has not deemed himself superior to another at some point? When we do so, we miss out on the great gift of a glimpse of Christ through the character of the person we have disregarded.

It is likely that Tommy Jackson III was familiar with his grandfather’s shortcomings. They were, and are, a close family. It would have been difficult to notice the image of Christ in his grandfather if he did not have respect for him. As a child of the Tlingit culture, respect for elders was deeply instilled him from toddlerhood. No doubt he chose to see past Tommy, Sr.’s flaws. And gazing upon his grandfather with the eyes of respect, he had the privilege of viewing Christ’s image.

On Sunday mornings I sometimes make a conscious effort to look at all the Christians gathered around and see how each one reflects Christ. Each person’s glow is slightly different from the other. Some are neon, some are pastel. But each color is beautiful; each is a dimension of the nature of Christ. I encourage the reader to join me in this exercise. If there is a brother or sister who irritates you, start with that person. If not, start with a person you have not noticed much. Look for how that person reflects Christ. You will learn something about that fellow Christian and about your Lord. You will be blessed.

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