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Monday, April 13, 2020

Powerful Ways To Be A Living Icon Of Christ (In Three Profound Steps)


Dear Reader,

As a Christian, we have an assignment - a job, a calling.  We are to be "disciples" of Christ, but the how, when, and where can get lost in the daily shuffle of life.  Or worse, we think that unless we go big, we go home, and shrink away from even bothering.  Not because we don't want to be disciples, but are afraid of messing it up. 
Our very human fear, gets in the way of His divine purpose for us.  
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But if you keep reading, I'll share how you can be an Icon of Christ (and what that means), and even more important how you can fulfill that great purpose by treating others as Icons of Christ as well.

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There's a great line I came across a few months ago in my spiritual studies (unfortunately I couldn't find who said it first - feel free to leave a comment if you know where it's from!).  It said, "God will use you - it's up to you to decide if you're a Jesus, or a Judas."  Wow!  Of course that's two ends of a very broad spectrum, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle.  But the point is that we must get back up and try again, and recognize that it's the little things, done every day, that will have the most consistent impact.  And where do we start this process?  By recognizing ourselves, and every person created by God, as an icon of Christ: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." - 2 Corinthians 5:20

Going a little deeper, this means that when we look at another person we recognize they are "wonderfully made" (Psalm 139), and a visual reminder and representation of God's work and love.  They are a symbol of creation ("You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you." - Romans 8:9), and deserve our veneration (the word itself means "great respect"). 

This is true irregardless of shared beliefs or not, because if you as a Christian believe we are all creations from God, then it is our responsibility to follow Jesus' greatest commandment: to love another.  There's a period there.  It's not "love everyone who agrees with you", or "love only those who will agree with you."  It's love everyone [period].  Quick disclaimer: this does not refer to someone who is in an abusive/toxic relationship.  Love includes genuine human decency/respect.  And you can still love someone, and limit their access to you if it is due to a safety issue!

But we are to love everyone - that's our purpose, manifested in oh-so-many powerful ways (but more on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in another post!).  To treat everyone like the icon of Christ they are, irregardless of shared beliefs, and unconditionally.  It should never be with the sole intent of converting, because this would lead to false intentions in your relationships with others.  Which if that has been the case in your past, please take a moment to pause and self reflect as to why you felt the need to have others agree with you: was it because you didn't feel validated in your own beliefs, unless others around you agreed with you?
No we must dig deeper, and form authentic connections with our fellow creations and venerate with mutual respect, understanding and love.
St. Bernadette once said, "My job is to inform, not convert."  The Holy Spirit does that.  We can lead people to Christ, we can plant the seeds, but our purpose is so much more than that.  Our greatest commandment it to love (for none of the gifts of God matter, if we do not have love - see, Luke 6:32-36 & 1 Corinthians 13).  So to summarize before going into the profound ways to do this, here's the main point to remember:
A human soul is a creation from God, a window into Heaven, and a visual reminder of His love.  Each of us are then icons of Christ, representing God, and deserving veneration which simply means, 'great respect'.  And we do this because our Greatest Commandment is to love.
Here are three profound steps you can do in one day:


1.)  Begin each day with a simple prayer to keep in the back of your mind each day.  This is the one I use every morning: "Dear God, help me to see Jesus in others, and help them to see Jesus in me by my actions today."

2.)  Know deep in your soul, that you will serve a purpose simply by being a vessel, a disciple for God in your everyday actions.  St. Maximus the Confessor once said, "The human being is a mystical church.  By the nave of his body he enlightens in his active powers . . . by the sanctuary of his soul he offers to God the spiritual essences of things . . . by the altar of his mind he invokes the silence in the heart of the divine word.  There, as far as is allowed to humanity, he is united to the Godhead. . . . and receives the imprint of its dazzling splendor."  We make the Church, we are His hands and feet on Earth.  When we want to shake our hands at God sometimes, and ask, "Why did you/didn't you do this?!", we need to quietly still ourselves and reach within, knowing that God did do something - he created YOU!  We are the vessels that can do something each, and every, day!   

3.)  Pray, recognize and now DO.  Do one act of kindness a day (the spiritual and corporeal works of mercy are a beautiful start!  Here's two fantastic links of a breakdown of each act that can be done almost anytime: LINK for corporeal works & for LINK for spiritual works).  Jesus was able to use the gift of words, but he did even more with actions ("Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words." - often attributed to St. Francis). 


That's it, three profound steps to live the faith actively in your life!  Because we have been given the gift of life, and opportunity, and now is the time to embrace it.  To do one thing a day for the betterment of your fellow man.  And this I can guarantee: when you serve others, you serve yourself.  You feel a sense of accomplishment, a happiness, and that is the Holy Spirit within you nudging you along. 

And when we are able to recognize this, then it doesn't feel like a burden, but an opportunity to show veneration/great respect to God's creation, by recognizing the Divine in one another.  Kind of reminds one of the concept of Namaste doesn't it? ♥

Finally, if you are hoping to explore this topic a little deeper, here are some more resources that I hope may inspire: 



I hope you found some encouragement with this post, and please feel free to leave me a comment about which act of kindness is your favorite ♥  Much love, 


P.S. Photo credit for the lovely top image is David Dibert via pexels.com

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