You’ve seen the commercials between your favorite TV shows: “Coming soon…to a theater near you.” A movie producer will take the best scenes of their upcoming film and created a preview, a short visual sampling with one simple goal: to make you want to see their movie.
Dr. Bruce Ashford says Christians can also think of themselves as individual previews of Christ.
“As believers in the United States of America, our posture, the words that come out of our mouth, and the way we seek the common good of our nation ought to give people a preview of Jesus’ coming kingdom–to make them want what it is Jesus has to offer, rather than repelling them and turning them off.”
Throughout our daily lives, we’re constantly bearing witness to what we really believe. You’re being noticed for how you treat others, especially in public arenas.
“When we walk into the public square as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus, we’re ambassadors of the most powerful agent in the universe. That’s why we need to represent Him well, especially on social media and especially in politics and in public life. The way we handle ourselves–our posture, our demeanor, the words that come out of our mouths– those reflect back on Jesus and make people think certain things about Jesus.”
Simply put, our witness is how we show Jesus to others through our daily lives. Ashford says it starts by recognizing our loyalty to Christ alone, and that He is the one who is actively redeeming the world.
“We’re striving to be humble and confident at the same time. Our confidence is this: one day, Jesus will return and He will renew and restore. He will set himself up as the King and justice will roll down like the waters. His kingdom will be characterized by love, order and peace. That’s our confidence. Our humility is this: that we will not be the ones who make it happen. He will.”
Since we’re here to represent God’s kingdom, we don’t have to be afraid of how others will view us. Instead, we must be motivated by love to simply provide a preview of who He is.
“Obedience to the Lord Jesus is always going to, in one way or another, be offensive because of the content of it. We’re declaring that Jesus is Lord and the person we’re talking to is not lord over their own life. We can’t shy away from some things specifically because it might be offensive, but we can ask God to give us wisdom– when is the right time to talk about this issue? When is it not? How can I talk about the issue?”
“When I’m talking with somebody with whom I disagree…whenever it’s my turn to talk in the conversation, if the first few sentences that come out of my mouth can be positive, whatever it is I can affirm about the other person, affirm that as a gesture of good will. Then, when I try to help them see it from a different angle, it doesn’t come off as an attack. I’ll say Now, think with me, let’s think through this together.”
“We’re not going to persuade people all the time. We’re probably not going to persuade people most of the time, but we’re not doing this to win. God didn’t call us to be winners per se, He called us to be witnesses.”
Dr. Bruce Ashford is Provost and Professor of Theology & Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s the author of Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians (SEBTS) and One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics.Coming Soon, a preview of Christ