Can you remember a moment when you encountered Christ in another person?
In the fall of 2001 while I was a backup quarterback for the Chicago Bears, a critical mistake managing the clock almost made us lose the game. Though the media criticism was brutal, our head coach Dick Jauron gracefully answered all questions at the press conference with class and honor, taking full responsibility for the costly error.
The next day, I heard the rest of the story. With eyes tearing up, an assistant coach shared with me that he was responsible for keeping track of the clock in that situation, and the mistake was completely his fault.
Dick Jauron—the head coach—had the power, the microphone, and the only voice that mattered. He could easily have blame-shifted and gotten off the hook. Instead, he took the blame himself. Jauron’s willingness to use his position of power to protect and cover someone is one of the greatest examples of Christlike behavior I’ve ever seen.
—Danny Wuerffel, Executive Director of Desire Street Ministries, 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, and former NFL quarterback
I encountered Jesus through Chaplain Jim Conte. He was my new Command Chaplain at the United States Naval Academy, and I traveled from Philadelphia to Annapolis to meet him. He picked me up at the airport, reaching for my two pieces of luggage as I left baggage claim. I thanked him for his kindness and insisted on carrying my own luggage, but he took them from me anyway. Though he significantly outranked me, he possessed a servant’s heart and served me with his generous actions—in spite of my protests. I thought of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet on the night in which He was betrayed and denied. Our Lord served those men with unconditional love, and I understand that truth better because of Jim.
—Barry C. Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate and author of Nothing to Fear: Principles and Prayers to Help You Thrive in a Threatening World
I didn’t grow up in the church. A cynical, wary loner by nature, I assumed the world was not a safe place and didn’t trust the first Christians who showed me the Savior’s love. But when I probed to learn their motivation, I kept finding the same answer: The love of Christ in them was the motivation. That initial draw to Him made me examine my cynicism, repent of it, and ask Jesus to change me. As the world became safer and more coherent, I soon recognized the source of cynicism and distrust was the enemy, who wanted “to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Becoming part of the church brought me into a community where I see God’s love manifested in relationships, in teaching, in worship, and in the fellowship I’ve grown to depend on. For me, the body of Christ in all its everyday forms has been the embodiment of Christ in my life. And for that I am forever grateful.
—Max McLean, founder and artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts and producer of C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters
My Mentor, Pat Conner, has consistently been an example of Christ. When I was a frazzled young mom, she made time for me, despite her overwhelming schedule as the most visible female leader at our large church. She knew how to speak peace to the storms of motherhood. As children’s minister, she modeled and taught the importance of treating every child with dignity and compassion.
In my early days in ministry, she bore my mistakes patiently, giving gentle correction and encouragement when others might have decided I wasn’t worth the trouble. When she lost her daughter to cancer, I witnessed her give glory to God in the midst of unspeakable suffering. For these reasons and a hundred more besides, she has been both example and friend to me, worthy of imitating because of her own faithful imitation of Christ.
—Jen Wilkin, speaker, teacher of women’s Bible studies, and author of None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing)
Illustration by Sabeena Karnik