I recently came across a story from Tony Campolo, in the book ReJesus by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, about a man named Joe who came to faith in Jesus. He was known as a vicious drunk, but following his conversion everything changed. Joe became the most caring and compassionate person that you could imagine. He spent his days and nights caring and serving other drunks and telling them about the transformation he received through Jesus.
One night, a preacher was delivering a sermon where Joe attended. Many of Joe’s friends that he spent so much time serving were there. After the sermon one man came forward praying and crying that God would change him and free him from his sin. The repentant man shouted, “Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!” The preacher leaned over to the man and said, “Son, I think it would be better if you prayed, ‘Make me like Jesus!’” The man looked up thoughtfully and asked, “Is he like Joe?”
This story points out so well the powerful influence that we are to have on those in our lives. We will be able to help people not because we are so great, but only if we allow Jesus to live in us and through us. The man in this story was so touched by the loving, compassionate service of Joe that he mistook him for Jesus. That’s what I want for my life. I want people to hear what I say, see what I do, and feel the loving presence of Jesus. Using the term by Frost and Hirsch we are to be “little Jesuses” in the world.
Paul understood the need for us to imitate our Savior. “Be imitators of me, as I follow Christ.” (1Cor 11:1) This Scripture and the story remind me of the song, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” This is what we want, isn’t it? To be imitators of Christ so that he can work his beautiful loving compassion through us to make a difference in the lives of others. Make us like Jesus (and Joe).