Off-duty Christian

Humans are naturally forgetful and need constant reminders.

Each of the Lord’s Feasts that the Israelites were commanded to observe annually are in fact a reminder of truths as well as a foretaste of things to come. The Feast of Passover, for example, commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt by the mighty hand of God. The Passover Seder (or order) includes the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:8). Following the first Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were commanded to observe this feast “each year, from generation to generation” (Ex 12:14).

Soon after departing from Egypt, the Israelites received God’s instructions (torah) on all aspects of life. All in all, God gave them 613 commandments and to help them remember to keep them, God devised the tassel (or tzitzit in Hebrew) which is attached to the corners of the garment. Every time a Jew looks at the tassel, he or she will “remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes” (Num 15:39).

Modern day Christians have their own version of reminders. The Purity Ring is one such example. Fathers give them to their daughters to remind them to keep themselves chaste till the wedding night.

The phrase “What would Jesus do?” (often abbreviated to WWJD) became popular in the United States in the 1990s and as a personal motto for adherents of Christianity who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents. In popular consciousness, the acronym signifying the question—WWJD—is associated with a type of bracelet or wristband which became a popular accessory for members of Christian youth groups, both Catholic and Protestant, in the 1990s.

Could this be the modern day version of the tassel prescribed in the book of Numbers?

I think it is a fitting comparison and it aligns with the idea that every believer of Christ is an “ambassador for Christ”. As such, they ought to be careful to speak, act, and conduct themselves in a manner that is worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1) and of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27), “to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10).

There are many examples around us of what it means to live in a manner worthy of a calling.

A policeman is supposed to be an example of the Law. He lives worthy of his profession. He doesn’t steal and he doesn’t cheat… He defends and upholds the Law and protects the citizens in his community even when he is off-duty. It is not the uniform that makes him a policeman; it is his conviction and passion to serve and protect.

A doctor also is supposed to live worthy of his profession. He heals the sick. He cares for those who are ill and seeks to make them well. The Hippocratic Oath which he took forbids him from withholding medical assistance to anyone who needs it and to do no harm. A doctor is not a doctor only when he is in his clinic or in a hospital. He is a doctor anywhere and everywhere and at anytime. His knowledge and skill never leaves him though he might not have his stethoscope with him.

A farmer tills the soil and sows seed according to the seasons in order to produce food for thousands. He must be diligent and meticulous. He knows that “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Prov 24:33).

In the same way, a Christian must BE a Christian at all times, except while he is asleep. He is never ‘off-duty’ nor goes on vacation. He will slip-up now and then but these should be the exception rather than the rule. The Christian Life is not a hat you can put on and take off. It is the new life which God has raised us up to walk in (Rom 6:4).


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