Have you ever heard the following phrase used to positively describe someone:
“He/she is so down to earth.”
The connotation that is usually associated with this phrase is that the person being described is easy to relate to, easy to get along with and doesn’t make others uncomfortable.
As I read about the life of Jesus Christ, I often find myself asking, would people describe Him today as “down to earth”? In one sense, it is obvious that Jesus was easy to relate to, that he met people where they were, and that people longed to be around Him. In this sense, I guess He could be described as “down to earth”. He could relate to and empathize with our humanity. At the same time, His very presence convicted people of their sin and sent them to their knees in repentance. He didn’t affirm their sin and make them comfortable with it. The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is such a good example of this. Just by simply conversing with her, Jesus was saying, “I love you, I care about you, and I do not condemn you.” But within a few moments of their discussion, all of her sins were laid out in the open.
I would also point out that Jesus’ response to sin and brokenness was anything but “down to earth”. It was was completely heavenly minded. He didn’t respond to physical ailments with a candid, “I am so sorry that you are not feeling well.” On the contrary, He said things like, “Take up your mat and walk,” or “Your faith has healed you.” When faced with death, Jesus responded with things like “She is not dead, she is only sleeping,” and “His sickness will not end in death.” These responses didn’t make everyone comfortable and content all around Him. Those miracles either had people leaping for joy in awe and amazement, or they made people so angry that they wanted to kill Him. In this sense, I am not sure that anyone in His day would have described Jesus as down to earth, but would probably have been more likely to describe Him as “Out of the world.”
So what does this mean for us as followers of Christ? A speaker that I often listen to named Todd White puts it like this, “We cannot be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good, but we should be so heavenly minded that we are earthly incredible.” To simplify that a bit, we should be “down to earth” in the way that we connect with people. As followers of Christ, we are not better than anyone by any means. In fact, our declaration of faith is that we are just as lost and broken as every other human being that has ever walked the earth. Our testimony is so powerful, because it is a reminder of where He rescued us from, and it enables us to empathize with others and meet them where they are.
However, our response to their brokenness should be nothing short of “out of this world”. When people open up to us about their struggles, the sins, or their physical ailments, our response should make their jaw drop. It should not be like the candid responses they are used to that affirm their sin or offer unauthentic sympathy to their pain. Our response to these things should immediately point them to our loving Father in Heaven. What if our response to sin was a declaration of boundless grace and forgiveness? What if our response to the physical pain of others was a declaration of faith that legitimately believed for physical healing?
We are the sweet aroma of Christ to those who our perishing and to those who are being saved. Yes, we are in this world, but when we give our lives to Christ our spirit takes up residence in a glorious and powerful kingdom that is not of this world. We operate in this world as ambassadors for Christ, but it isn’t our worldliness that draws people to Him, it is our Kingdom response. That Kingdom response may be met with exuberant joy, or it may be met with anger and rage. Either way, it will point people to our King.
As you seek to pursue Christ today, remember your humanity. Be “down to earth” as you connect with people and relate to their struggles. At the same time, remember that you are a son of the most high God! You are earthly incredible, and you are the sweet aroma of Christ to everyone that you encounter. Let your response to brokenness and pain be chalked full of faith, hope, joy and love! Our ultimate goal isn’t to blend in and be described as down to earth, but for Jesus to stand out and for His love to be exalted as supernaturally out of this world!
This won’t be possible if not for the support and contribution of Brian Maisch.