Bearing the Marks of the Lord
Did you know that the stripes of tigers are distinctive because the patterns of orange and black are unique to each individual animal, much like our fingerprint is to us or a dog’s nose print is to “man’s bestfriend.” What makes the tiger’s stripes even more unique is the fact that the same pattern is also found on the tiger’s skin so much so that when its fur is shaved off, the same pattern can be found on the skin.
Polar bears are different. When we say “polar bear,” we think of white or light-furred creatures yet though they are white or look white on the outside, really on the inside, their skin is a different color. Sometimes, human beings are a lot like the Polar bear. We seem one thing on the outside but are totally different on the inside.
What would people see if layers of who we are stripped away – especially for us “Christians”? Would what we carry on the inside be what is expected because we are “Christians”? Would we be people of a different stripe inside or would we be “Christian” through and through?
“Christian” – the name means “follower of Christ” yet would our actions, our relationships, our values often tell people we have missed the mark?
The name “Christian” is validated, not by superficial features and not because we say we are Christians. Our true stripes are revealed when we follow Christ faithfully in the daily and ordinary things, in faithfully serving God’s church, in the large and great sacrifices, in our life and work, and in the depth of our love of God and in our compassion for others. Holy Week reminded us of the One we follow. Christ gave himself for us and the marks he carries are marks of sacrifice and compassion. The church is the body of Christ. May we, his people, bear the marks of our Savior in everything that we do and in everything that we say. May people see marks of our Lord in us, not only in a superficial way, but more so in what dwells in our hearts and in our souls.
Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church