Last week, I read an anecdote about a young lady named Alexandra Flynn from Freemont, Neb.
Back in 2002, Alexandra, or Alex as her friends called her, went to her high school’s homecoming dance. She left home in high spirits, but she did not have her high school ID with her. When the man at the door refused her admission without her ID, she went home to get it. Unable to find it, her mother went back to the dance with her to identify her and to explain. Again, the daughter was refused admission without the ID.
Alex had the tickets in her hand, but still was not admitted. Even though she was the student body president, played cello in the all-state orchestra, was on the honor roll, was the school’s No. 1 cheerleader and spent hours decorating the gym for the homecoming dance, she was still not admitted. Did I mention that she was homecoming queen? But she never did get in. Not even the homecoming queen could get into the big dance without the proper ID.
Surely, if ever there were someone who deserved to get in, it was Alexandra Flynn. She appeared to have been the model student, with all that she had worked so hard for and accomplished. However, even she couldn’t get in without the proper ID.
In a similar way, getting into heaven isn’t a matter of our good deeds and accomplishments. Without Jesus Christ, we have no ID to get into heaven. Oftentimes, at funerals, I will hear someone say something like this: “If ever there were someone who deserved to get into heaven, it was her. She was such a nice lady and did so many things.”
But that’s not the way it works. No human being, except Jesus Christ himself, ever deserves heaven. In fact, the only way anyone gets into heaven is by Christ identifying them as belonging to him.
That is, literally, what the word “Christian” means. It means “little Christ” or “Christ like.” In other words, when we become a Christian, we give our life to him, and we no longer belong to ourselves; we belong to Christ. We are his. We are bought and paid for by his own blood. That is the only way to get into heaven.
But Jesus is more than just our ticket into heaven. Jesus isn’t just our reservation at the grand banquet of paradise. He is our identity here and now, as well. Far too many people who call themselves Christians see Jesus as something they’ll need and use someday, way off in the future, when they die and are ready to enter into heaven. But it's not really of much use to them in the meantime.
Many people see Jesus as nothing more than a “get out of jail free” card that they can save and use at the moment of their death to save them from hell. That kind of thinking turns Christ into little more than a tool that we can use at just the right moment. This is a sad and sorry mistake. Instead of Jesus being a tool for us to use, we are supposed to be a tool for him to use.
Jesus called all Christians to represent him here on earth. We are to be doing his will here and now, not just holding on to him to use at some later date. If, as Christians, our true identity is in Christ, then we need to be doing what he wants us to do. We need to make ourselves useful and available to him. If we’ll look at what we know of him from the Bible, we’ll know what he wants us to do and who he wants us to be.
He did lots of things that you and I may never do, like walk on water, or feed thousands of people, or heal the sick, blind and lame. We call those things miracles.
Though we may never be able to perform miracles, we can do what Jesus was doing in each of those miracles – loving people. That we can do. That we must do. For that is how we represent him.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide how you’re going to show love for the people around you, but that is what Christ did. And if we are to identify with him, then that is what we must do, as well.