by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

July, 1998

One morning, as I was taking our five-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Monica, to day care, she asked me to show her an American flag.

"Sure, sweetheart," I answered, thinking it would be a simple thing to find an American flag. So I drove past City Hall. No American flag. Then I drove past the Post Office. No flag. I drove past one or two other places. No flags. Finally it was getting late so I gave up and headed for the day care center. A few minutes later, we saw an American flag, in front of a funeral home. Then we saw another flag in front of a private school. After I had dropped Monica off at day care, I saw an American flag in front of a restaurant. Then I remembered that I could have driven past the VFW earlier.

My mother used to make the observation that whenever you bought a new car, you would begin to see other cars like it: If you bought a red Chevrolet of a particular model, you would begin to see other red Chevrolets of that model. If you bought a blue Ford of a certain model, you would begin to see other blue Fords of that model. This has certainly been true of the majority of cars I've owned.

The following incident is allegedly true: When I was in high school in Illinois, one of my fellow students supposedly turned to another teenager in the local McDonald's fast-food restaurant and said, "Speaking of French fries, do you know Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?"

As you might expect, this incident prompted considerable amusement. However, we really are exposed to countless opportunities to share the gospel. All we have to do is look for them.

Perhaps you've seen cards with an arrangement of lines and rectangles, and the question, "What do you see?" If you look at the spaces between the lines, you see the word "JESUS." Furthermore, once you have seen it, you can never look at it and see just a collection of lines again. And so it is with us: Once we have truly seen Jesus, our lives can never be the same as they were.

There are people all around us -- desperate people -- who need to see Jesus, who need the transforming power that only he can bring to their lives. Each day, we encounter people who "wish to see Jesus" (John 12:21b) if only we would show them. When we look at others, what do we see? Do we see only the outside or do we see individuals, with troubles, sorrows and disappointments? And when they look at us, what do they see? Do they see just another person like everyone else, or do they see Jesus, ready to forgive, renew and heal? This Independence Day, it will be easy to find an American flag. We should make it just as easy to find Jesus, who gives independence from sin and death.

"Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.'" (John 12:20-23 RSV)


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