Monday, May 16, 2011

In The Name

All my Christian life I have heard the phrase, "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," which is quoting Colossians 3:17.  And I let it sweep over me, as if it were a cliche that was tossed around by well-meaning but non-thinking people, and as if I were so smart I didn't need advice like that, and as if it were not Scripture.  But this week I got to thinking about it.

What does it mean?  First, to do something under his authority.  That assumes we are not the authority deciding whether something is within the realm of his authority, but we are listening to him.  Too often we make ourselves the arbiters of whether something is under his authority instead of just placing ourselves there and waiting for clear direction. 

Second, it means intentionality.  How much of my life has been habitual, instinctive, intuitive, haphazard, seat-of-the-pants, let's just go with it, and not intentional.  Intentional doesn't necessarily mean planned, but it does mean conscious, aware, and with a clear goal in mind.  Often a decision is made quickly, but that doesn't mean the decision is without a guiding star, a mission. 

Third, it means asking for his blessing on it.  Can we ask Jesus to bless everything we do? 

Fourth, it means by his power.  The ability to do whatever it is we are doing coming from him is a criterion for "in his name."  And just like #1 and #3, we have to be conscious of what we are doing being in his realm.

Fifth, it means representative of him, reflecting his character. 

I think this defines Christian ethics.  The "what would Jesus do" craze was too simplistic, but it was on the right track.  We are in a position to do more than Jesus did on earth because there are more of us and we have longer lives and different opportunities, but "in his name" means clear and informed choice based on a goal, under his authority, in his power, reflective of him, and something we can without doubt ask him to bless.

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