King Carl (doesn’t that have a really nice ring to it?) provides another fascinating story from Swedish history. This time, we will go back to December 23, 1988. The Swedish King on the throne is King Carl Gustav. The king went Christmas shopping and wanted to pay by check. Alas, he did not have any identification, and the store clerk was not about to be cajoled into making an exception to store policy. As the conversation went on, other shoppers displayed the one-crown piece—Swedish currency that displays the face of the king. It was only when the likeness of the king was matched with the person at the store counter that the store clerk accepted the check (Hofstede 2010, 88; NRC Handelsblad, 1988).
Carl needed to look like the king (on the one-crown piece) to be able to be received as the real deal. Likewise, we desperately need to look like our King Jesus. This is not a shocker to any of us—the idea of “walk the talk,” just with a fancy Swedish story behind it. However, do we really take Paul’s words to heart in 1 Corinthians 4:16-17? “Therefore I urge you to imitate me . . .” Do we strive to look like Christ so passionately that we are willing to ask others to examine our lives to catch a glimpse of what Jesus looks like? Whether or not we ask people to look at our lives, they can’t help but notice how we live. How we live matters.
How we interact in our church matters—living like Jesus requires more than showing up.
How we interact within our small groups matters—listening over telling is a gracious skill.
How we interact with our family matters–even after we have had a lousy day at work.
There are all sorts of great church initiatives that lead us to reach out to others. They aren’t worth much if we do not look like our King Jesus though. When we live like Jesus, we provide safe space within our relationships. When we live like Jesus, we protect and curate safe spaces for people who are looking for a place to belong in our church family. Doing an honest assessment of whether or not we look like Jesus in our interactions is worth the investment. Asking the people closest to us is a great way to break the ice and honestly look in the mirror—do I look like the King when I say that I represent Him with the gospel message or an invitation to His church?
Grace and peace,
Carl Greene, Executive Director, SDB General Conference of USA and Canada
Hofstede, Geert, Hofstede, Gert Jan, and Michael Minkov. 2010. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival. New York: McGraw Hill.
NRC Handelsblad. December 23, 1988. Translated by GH in Hofstede, Geert, Hofstede, Gert Jan, and Michael Minkov. 2010. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival. New York: McGraw Hill, 88.