My wife grew up with a great love for classical literature and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of her favorites. She has read it a number of times and is very picky about how movie adaptations reflect the original work of Dickens. Thankfully we are able to find versions that have language that is almost exactly the language of Dickens from the novel. She often has some quibbles about somethings that were left out but what was is there in the ones she enjoys she felt were faithful to the original.
That got me thinking how we as Christians are to be faithful to the original. This phrase has a number of concepts that can be attached to them. For instance, two thoughts came to be about how we are to be faithful to the original in:
1) Following Jesus
1 John 2:4-6 reads, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” It is made quite clear here that one of the assurances we have that we are in the faith is that we walk as Jesus did. John is discussing walking in the truth which is more than just words but action. Jesus was truth not only in what he said but in how he lived. Not to embrace the social gospel or anything but the reality is, if we are Christians we are to be faithful to the original, that is Christ, by walking as he did. Our lives, our thoughts, our actions, our behaviour, our teaching should be just as Jesus’ was.
2) Teaching the Word
2 Timothy 3:15 reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” One of the things that a teacher/preacher of the Word of God must be is faithful to the original. We are called to “rightly handle the word of truth.” We are to know the Word and proclaim the Word. As ambassadors of Jesus Christ our job is not to create our own message but to accurately proclaim His message. Every preacher and teacher of God’s Word must know it so as to proclaim it accurately being as careful as possible to be faithful to the original.
There are many other aspects of the Christian faith and ministry that force us to consider how faithful we are to the original. The reality is our lives and ministries are to be faithful to the God that has both created our lives and providentially put us into our ministries. Every thought we think, every action we perform, every word we utter, is to be in conformity to the image of Christ. An image is an exact representation of the original. The question becomes how faithful to the original are you? Are you an exact image or only a reasonable facsimile?
We like movie versions that are pretty faithful to the original. I only hope and pray that my life and my ministry might be also said to be faithful to the original when it is seen by the world and the church.