Before and during most every youth trip I ever led there would come a time when the students would be reminded that while on our adventure we represented three very important labels. We represented our families at home. We represented the church who sponsored the trip and whose name was on the side of the van. And most importantly, we represented Jesus, the reason our groups existed. Anything we did that brought shame to ourselves trickled down to those 3 entities. Embarrassing me was one thing; bringing shame to Jesus was a much tougher pill to swallow. And for the most part they lived up to their royalty for nearly 30 years.
One of the Senior Pastors I worked with was very aware of the danger of hypocrisy in his daily life. He was a devout believer, but he refused to label his car with bumper stickers or a "Jesus fish" logo. Why? Because he knew himself as a driver, and he was afraid that the strong possibility that he would flip off someone who cut him off might reflect poorly on his Savior if his car screamed "Christian Inside!" The thought of a driver thinking less of Jesus because of his action was more that he could deal with- so he made a choice. Sometimes it is painful to remember who you are.
And finally, the story that spawned this post. My son Will is a seating host at a very busy Olive Garden. He often works lunch, and on several occasions now it has been his task to greet and/or seat a middle aged man who comes in alone. Each and every time the man has been gruff and demanding, rude to other patrons and a true pain in the butt for the staff. The servers complain when they get him, and have mentioned that he is a rotten tipper. While we are certain he is not the only one who behaves in such a manner, Will has taken special notice of him because he recognized the man- from a church staff where he once served as a youth pastor, and from his announcements in church as the leader of an international mission organization. The man is a long-time professional Christian. Will recognizes him and sees his behavior. Who else does? Does he ever share a kind word or the love of Jesus with his server, or is he too busy not tipping them? Everyone has bad days. He seems to be having a bad year- and at least at Olive Garden he has forgotten who he is. And oh by the way- Christians who tip poorly really rattle my cage!!!
All of us are human. Like Simba, there are times when it is easier to hide than to acknowledge our royalty and seek to be the people we are called to be. If we claim to be part of God's royal family but do not show love and respect to the people we encounter daily, we embarrass Jesus. If we spout scripture but live lives of pettiness and hypocrisy, we are not serving the King. If we are bold enough to claim friendship with the Son of God yet claim others are not "good enough" for his family, then we have lost our identity- for who among us is truly worthy? And if we wear a gold cross around our necks so that the world will know to whom we belong, then we need to remember that the cross means something. It's not just a symbol. It's a proclamation of whose we are. So today, with everyone you encounter- even the guy you flipped off on the way to to work- remember who you are. A child of the one true King. Let's show this hurting world what a royal family REALLY looks like...