The past two days we have been looking at how in Christ we are to be fruit bearers. You can view all of the Who Am I? posts here if you missed them: Who Am I? Table of Contents.
Today, we are looking at another part of our identity in Christ. We are Christ’s representatives to the world. This is actually the purpose of all men, more so being representatives of the Living God, but sin gets in the way. Let me show you what I mean by taking you through the Bible!
After God created heaven and earth and all the creatures, he creates man. He creates man to be male and female. Male and female he created them. Both are created in his image. God purposed them to be his visible representatives to creation. He tells them to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the whole earth and subdue it. Mankind was to be the visible representatives of the invisible God by being his vice-regents over creation.
Then sin gets in the way and screws it up. Sin does not strip man’s ability to bear God’s image, but it does hinder it. God is without sin. He is holy. Now, man is no longer sharing a blameless nature with the Creator. Yet, even in sin man was continually called by God to be his representatives. How? Let’s look at another part of Genesis.
Genesis 11:1–4 (ESV)
11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Look at this story and see how fallen man thought at that time and even how we still think! These people desired to make a name for themselves and be gathered together in one spot (v.4). They were seeking to find fulfillment in being representatives of themselves. They were trying to promote their own name, not God’s. Because of this God frustrates their plans. The Hebrew word for what he does to man sounds like the word for “confused.” The Lord frustrates the ego of sinful man, who desired to make a name for themselves, by disrupting their own plans and confusing them. What was the creation mandate? Be fruitful and multiply, fill the whole earth and subdue it. These people got the first half right. They were fruitful, but these desired to not be the visible representatives of the invisible God to all creation. So, instead of lifting up the name of the Creator they wanted to lift their own name up.
Genesis 12:1–2 (ESV)
12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
God calls Abram (soon to be Abraham) to be the father of a great nation, which will soon (a few hundred years) be the established nation of Israel. Contrasting Genesis 11:4 where man desires to make their own name great, now God in Gen. 12:2 will make Abram’s name great.
This is how John Piper describes the contrast in his book Desiring God.
“The key difference is this: When man undertakes to make his own name great, he takes credit for his own accomplishments and does not give glory to God. But when God undertakes to make a person great, the only proper response is trust and gratitude on the part of man, which gives all glory back to God, where it belongs.”
We soon see in Genesis 15:6 that Abram trusts God. Likewise, the people of Israel, Abraham’s offspring, were chosen by God to be a people who trust in him and give him all the glory. Israel, as a nation, was to be God’s visible representatives for the other nations. When other nations saw how Israel was benefiting from trusting in the name of Yahweh they were sure to be drawn to this God. Yet, sin again gets in the way….
The kings of Israel were also supposed to be the visible representatives of the invisible God. The only king who somewhat did this was King David. He was a man after God’s own heart. David desires to make the name of the Lord great. He desires to glorify the name of Yahweh. But, every king that follows him starts a downward trend. Solomon is a man described as having a half-heart for God. Then, the rest of the successors after him really have very little redeemable attributes (there are a few decent kings, but not many!).
Finally, we see a worthy man who fulfills the role of being the visible representative of the invisible God. Who was this man? Actually, he wasn’t just fully man. He was fully God! It was Jesus! Where man failed time and time again to fit their designed purpose, God the Son steps in and rocks the role.
Christ’s life was devoted to glorifying his Father. He desired, in his ministry especially, to glorify God in all that he did. His miracles were a testimony to the power, mercy, and grace of God. His teachings pointed to his Father. He obeyed his Father’s will. In all aspects of his life, he was the perfect representative of the invisible God.
Colossians 1:15 (ESV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God,
Even in death, Jesus glorified God! The Father puts forth his Son on the cross to show his righteousness (Rom. 3:25). Christ suffered and died in order to glorify the name of God. There could be more said on this, but John Piper has already written volumes on how Christ glorified God in his life, death, and resurrection. I exhort you to read them!
“The work of Christ for the glory of God leads inevitably to the conclusion that God’s purpose for His new redeemed people, the church, is that our life goal should be to glorify God in Christ.”
If we are the salt and light of the earth, who are we to be salt and light of? The answer is that we are the salt of Christ for the earth to taste him and the light of Christ for the earth to see him. If we are to be fruit-bearers what is the purpose of our fruit? To glorify God and to show the world what abiding in Christ produces.
The great commission really is just a restating of the Creation Mandate. This time, Jesus is issuing a mandate for his New Creation, the Church.
Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Church, those who are believers, are to be Christ’s visible representatives on this earth until he returns. So, that is what we are to be. That is who we were really made to be and in Christ, we have that purpose reissued to us to follow. We are the salt and light of the earth. We are abiding in Christ to bear fruit. We are Christ’s image bearers to the ends of the earth. You and I are Christ’s representatives.